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Showing posts from 2011

How To Do A Proper Google Search

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I firmly believe that there are at least two things we should definitely be teaching our kids in school (and/or at home):

Critical Thinking - How to process information, objectively sort and weigh value, then apply it to given situations.

How to most effectively Search Google - Now-a-days, you really don't have to memorize much ... if you know how to get the most out of modern technology. Google (and other search engines) contain a vast wealth of information. But they're also filled with an ever increasing load of distracting garbage. Being able to quickly find what you're really looking for is becoming a skill unto itself. The infographic below contains some good tips for improving that skillset ...



infographic source: http://www.hackcollege.com/

Finding My Why

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For a number of years now, I've been saying that I'd "kind of like" to be able to do my home business full-time (as in it provides a significant portion of our income) after I retire from the military. But if you asked me to name a specific reason, the best I could usually come up with is that I'd like to avoid the stress of looking for another job.

Woops ... I've had a negative "why".

As you can probably guess, although having a continuously profitable home business for over 10 years now could certainly be considered successful in relative terms; if I had to retire from the Air Force tomorrow, I wouldn't yet have enough of a regular income to avoid a job search.

Clearly I need a stronger motivation to build my home business income. I retire from the military at the end of 2013, so I've only got two years to figure this out.

Last Friday, the girl's school had a military dad's lunch, in honor of Veteran's day. I got to go eat l…

How To Pack For A Military Deployment

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I spent a little bit of time today, getting my uniforms together, and building my "72 hour" bag for my upcoming deployment.



I'll most likely finish packing the night before I leave ... that's just how I roll. But at least I was able to start getting things ready while I was home today. And even better, my 3 year old daughter Jaiden spent about 25 minutes helping me .. and that's not even "help" in quotations ... she actually did help me.

One of the 1st lessons I learned about Army support 6 or 7 years ago, is that when you go to the field, you should pack your clothes in gallon sized ziplock bags before putting it into your rucksack. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way, back in 2007, that this rule also applies when preparing for a regular deployment to a fixed base. When I went to Iraq the first time, for some reason I just stuffed all my clothes into my rucksack, and big "body bag". When we got to Al Udeid, Qatar, I took my little bac…

Do You Like Pizza Or Hamburgers?

That's the poll question that 3-year old Jaiden is supposed to ask people for her pre-school homework assignment. She made a valiant effort, but didn't quite grasp the concept:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRlnrtMnK64&feature=feedu

I guess you could say that her question asking style is a bit "leading". With mommy's help though, she did eventually manage to get around the entire room and ask ummm, tell each of us whether we like Pizza or Hamburgers better.

It was entertaining to say the least.

And I have to say, even beyond the food query, the one question that was going through my mind during this interview was ...

Since when do pre-schoolers get homework?

Keep havin FuN!
[todd-sig]

Mommy Is A Naturalized Citizen

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Ana Morris is now a U.S. citizen. On September 26th, we all took a trip down to the Lyndon B. Johnson library auditorium at the University of Texas in Austin. There, along with a couple hundred other immigrants from 76 countries, we sat through a nice hour long presentation, that culminated in the oath of citizenship.

I had intended to take a few more pictures, but if you've ever tried to keep an 18 month old quiet and still for a whole hour, in an auditorium full of people, you'll understand why I didn't use my camera more. ;-)

Here are a few of my favorites from the pictures I did take:









[todd-sig]

Do You Support Local Small Business?

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As new homeowners, we're continually discovering things we need. As such, I've found myself at the Ace Hardware store down the road more than a few times lately. I even went ahead and signed up for the Ace Rewards card. As much as I'd like to think that I specifically went to this small, locally owned hardware store because Copperas Cove is now my home town; the honest truth is that Ace is 5 minutes from my house, while Lowe's and Home Depot are "all the way" over in Killen (at least 20 minutes away).

Even admitting that my intentions weren't entirely pure, I still find myself feeling somewhat proud and happy about supporting a small business here in town. Don't get me wrong, we still run down to Walmart for quite a few things, and we still get most of our food from HEB, or the Commissary on post. However, if we have the opportunity to support a small business, and all thing are nearly equal (I realize we'll probably pay a bit more), I certainl…

My Car Got Rear Ended

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Well that was a fun afternoon.

Earlier today, I had to pop home real quick to grab some paperwork that I needed to take over to the Soldier's Center on Fort Hood. There's a traffic light at the corner of FM-116 and Lutheran Church Road, where I make a left to get to my house. When I arrived at the intersection, the light was green, but there was traffic coming the other direction, so I couldn't turn right away. I'd been sitting there for about 5-10 seconds, when I glanced up at the rear-view mirror and noticed a car coming up behind me "a bit" quicker than it should have been going. I thought to myself (and may have even said outloud):

Crap, he's gonna hit me

... and hit me he did.

I was pushed forward into the intersection, and slightly to my left (towards the oncoming traffic). Fortunately, I was able to steer back to the right a little bit, and the 1st car coming the other way was able to slow and veer onto the shoulder ... so no other cars were inv…

Jaiden's 1st Day At Pre-K

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Jaiden turns 3 years old tomorrow, and today was her first day of school. As a military family here in Texas, she was able to start pre-K at three ... full day of school no less. So this morning we brought her over to the brand new House Creek Elementary School and set her up in the classroom.

httpv://youtu.be/nfnalRXVezY

Getting out without upsetting her too much was a bit of challenge. But since it's lunch time now, and we haven't been called to come pick her up, I'm going to assume that she eventually settled in.

I'm looking forward to getting home from work tonight, and finding out all about her day.

Now, as far as 1st days of school ... 6 down, 1 to go ... 2 more years til Joey can start. ;-)

Keep havin FuN!

[todd-sig]

p.s. I don't know what happened to the sound on the video .. it's there on my phone. Maybe youtube just needs more time to finish processing it.

The New House Is Almost Done!

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Wow, it's only been 3 months since I stopped in at the D.R. Horton, House Creek North office to ask about building a house .. and now, our new home is just about finished. They still need to lay down the grass, put screens on the windows, and do a couple of other touch ups; but it's definitely looking like there's little doubt it will be ready for us to move in on the 30th.

Justin and I took a trip out there this morning. Since he spent the past 5 weeks in Hawaii, this is the first time he's seen the house since it was just a dirt lot. Of course I brought my camera along to grab a few new shots ...

Here's the view from the front. We have a pretty steep driveway. The bricks are in, an all the painting is done. The last thing they have to do, is put the black metal railing between those two columns on the front porch.


Once we got into the house, the first stop was the kitchen. The tile and carpet are down, the appliances are in, and they even cleaned up this m…

The Girls Help Daddy Make A Smoothie

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You all know how much I enjoy a nice smoothie. So this morning, I decided that's what would be for breakfast ... I enlisted Jaiden and Joey to help me.

The first step is to get out the Vitamix, and gather the ingredients:


I let Jaiden flip the switch to turn on the blender .. apparently it was fun!


Then it was time to enjoy ...

Jaiden used her spoon:


While Joey was all about the straw:


mmmmm .. a good time was had by all. I wonder what we'll do for lunch?

Keep havin FuN!

[todd-sig]

Central Texas Finally Gets Some Rain!

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Jaiden observed: "oh the water's coming from the sky". I'm almost surprised she didn't ask what rain is .. after all, it's been about 2 1/2 months since we've seen any precipitation here at Fort Hood. Add to that our streak of 100 degree days, and it's been a pretty miserable summer.

I'm not sure people were quite to the point of dancing in the streets. But I do know of at least a couple of my workmates who live out in Copperas Cove, that were very happy campers this afternoon.

I've still got a couple of weeks until I move into my new house. But with fresh sod going down, come about September 1st, I hope that the scene above becomes a very familiar site on my horizon.

Keep havin FuN!

[todd-sig]

U.S. Citizenship Test

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Are you as smart as a brand new citizen?

This is a picture of my wife Ana outside the San Antonio USCIS office this morning, after successfully completing her citizenship test. It only took about 15 minutes. She had to show that she can read English, write English, and correctly answer at least 6 out of 10 questions about United States civics and history. She only needed 6 questions, as she got them all right!

We go down to Austin later in September for the actual swearing in, but for all intents and purposes, she's done with the process.

Anyhow, as I was helping her study for the test, I was struck by the idea that many "natural born" citizens would quite possibly have a tough time answering some of the questions on this test.

So, figured it was a good excuse for a little experiment.

I'm going to share a small sample of the type of questions that are asked on the citizenship test. Without googling the answers (prospective citizens have to answer these questions …

Homemade Pizza On Our Pampered Chef Stone

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Jaiden helped me make pizza tonight!

... then decided that she'd rather have a yogurt for her dinner.

It's all good though, the rest of enjoyed using the Pampered Chef stone my mom sent me for Christmas to our yummy homemade pizza.

Here's what I did:

Mixed up the pizza dough, and spent about 10 minutes covered in flour kneading and shaping it.

Shaped the dough on the pizza stone.

Evenly spread one jar of fire roasted garlic diced tomatoes (instead of sauce).

Covered with one bag of shredded mozzarella cheese.

1/2 of a thinly sliced red onion.

An italian flavored chicken breast ... chopped. (cheated, and bought it pre-cooked in a bag)

1 tomato thinly sliced.

Cooked at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Ate :-)

[todd-sig]

p.s. 15 month old Joey had a whole slice of pizza to herself .. and her tray is now clean.

Do I Need A New Camera?

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Wow, my Canon 20D is nearly 7 years old. It's almost hard to imagine that I've owned a dSLR camera for that long. And it's almost equally as amazing that I still haven't upgraded, after all these years.

Lately though, I really don't even pull out the Canon unless it's a "special" occasion .. which seems to only happen every couple of weeks or so.

I'm not even planning to take the "big camera" with me when I deploy to Afghanistan later this fall.

For day-to-day picture taking, I've found that it's much easier to just rely on my Nexus S phone. Sure, there are quite a few things I can't do with the phone camera ... like zoom, or get a nice shallow depth of field, or have enough pixels to blow a shot up into a poster ... but really, how often do I need that kind of stuff anyway?

I'm actually looking forward to the idea of having my camera, post-processing, and storage all in a little 4" x 1/2" mini computer, that…

I'll Be Your Honey Bee

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Ok, so I stole the title from a popular country song, but none-the-less, today I do want to talk about our friend the honey bee.

Did you know, that as far as we humans are concerned, the honey bee is probably the most important animal in the world?

Do you know why that is?

One word: Pollination

As the bee goes out on it's daily hunt for nectar, at each plant it stops it usually also inadvertently picks up some pollen. As it moves on to the next food source, it deposits this pollen, enabling the plants (aka: our food) to reproduce.

So what can people learn from the bee?

What should we try to emulate?

As you go about your daily life, gathering the things you need for YOU, you'll also invariably pick up "stuff" that might very well be useful to others. You may or may not even be aware of this "stuff" .. but it's there.

Here's the thing about humans though .. unlike bees, we have this thing call Free Will.

The choices we make can have some impact on how muc…

Healthy Snacks In The Fruit Bowl

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Healthy food is what's on my mind lately, and I guess my pictures of the day will tend to reflect that. Today, we've gone to the fruit bowl, both literally and figuratively.

One of the easiest ways to lose a couple of pounds is to simply make the right decision, more often than not, when the question is some from of ...

"A cookie, or an apple?"

Needless to say, coming up with the correct answer is somewhat easier when you have well stocked fruit bowl sitting on the counter. Now I'm not sure you could really call ours "well stocked" at the moment. But at least the bananas are exactly how I like them ... almost, but not quite, over ripe.

When they're like this, they add just the right amount of sweetness to a smoothie. We can never have enough bananas in our house. It's by far my favorite fruit. But I actually ate a lot more when I was TDY to Florida ...

Because, here in the Morris house, it's also baby Joey's favorite fruit ... and br…

Simple Spinach Tomato Salad

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Lunch!

I'm still trying to lose and inch or two off my waist, so I've been trying to watch what I eat when I come home for lunch. One of the easiest things I've been able to come up with, is a simple little salad.

Today's salad consists of:

Spinach
Cherry Tomatoes
Sliced Turkey
Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing


Took all of about 2 minutes to put together. Is relatively healthy. And it tastes good! .. plus a colorful picture of the day.

What's not to like about this salad? ;-)

Til next time,
[todd-sig]

What Do You Drink After A Workout?

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I decided to try a different energy drink today. After I got done exercising at PT, I swung by the shoppette to grab some caffeine .. preferably in liquid form. Normally, I'd just go for some Diet Mtn Dew, or maybe an Amp, but today (partially because it was on sale), I decided to try a Rockstar Recovery.

It met my first two personal requirments for an energy drink:

Caffeine - 80mg
Low, or No Calories - 10 in this case


But then the real test .. what was it going to taste like? I don't know about you, but I think some energy drinks are just nasty. You know, the funny aftertaste that's left in your mouth after every sip?

I'm happy to report that this particular drink has an interesting grape flavor. It tastes pretty good going down. That being said, I'm not terribly sure about how it's sitting in my stomach. Maybe I just need to eat ...

Where the heck did I leave those Clif Bars?

Apparently these particular Rockstars have some extra ingredients that help repleni…

Not Quite Hot Enough To Fry An Egg

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Apparently 104 degrees isn't quite hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement. But hey, the last dozen we bought had one egg that was already cracked, and stuck in the carton, so it was an obvious candidate for this classic experiment.

... which unfortunately, turned out to be a big fat fail!

But at least it wasn't a total loss. I still got to take a fairly interesting picture of the day.

Til next time,

The Morning Rush

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It seems like I get stuck at this stop light every morning on my way to work. It's not a short stop light either. I usually end up sitting here for between 3 and 5 minutes .. long enough that it's worthwhile to grab my phone and read an article or two in my feed reader while I wait for it to turn green.

On the bright side, at least I wasn't going the other direction. That line of cars you can see in my mirror is waiting to get onto Fort Hood, main post. Once I make it through this light, the gate to get onto West Fort Hood, where I work, is much less congested. I call this my morning rush .. but really, it's just a relatively unstressful little 15-20 minute jaunt.

And today, it was even better, since I was able to knock out my very 1st picture of the day less than an hour after I crawled out of bed. No pressure. ;-)

Why Should You Join Google Plus?

First a video that does a pretty good job of explaining what Google Plus is:

httpv://youtu.be/hC_M6PzXS9g

So why am I on Google Plus?

Did you catch that list near the end of the video?


I check my email on Gmail
Most of the blogs I follow are consumed daily in Google Reader
My business phone number is answered by Google Voice
My cell phone is an Android .. Nexus S to be specific
I now have a couple of folders of pictures on Picas
Spreadsheets and documents in Google Docs
Google Calendar syncs with my phone


And I'm sure there at least a few more Google products that I'm not even able to think of off the top of my head.

Basically ...

Although I do really like Facebook, and participate on there every day, I'm already so integrated with Google, that it would honestly make life a bit easier if that's where I did my social networking too.

Wanna know what would really make it better for me?

If my friends were already there too.

Need an invite?

Hit the contact form, and shoot me a note telli…

Our New House In Copperas Cove Texas

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We took another trip out to the house this afternoon ...



They're making really good, and quick, progress. As you can see in the picture above, with the exception of shingles on the roof, and bricks in the front, the outside of the house is pretty much done.

Speaking of bricks ...
[caption id="attachment_3723" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="wow, there really is an Acme brick company"][/caption]

The inside is still looking a little rough. However, we were told that they'll probably start putting up the sheetrock the middle of this week. That means we'll be able to lock in our interest rate, and set a closing date ... most likely the end of August .. a full month sooner than the original estimate.

[caption id="attachment_3725" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="I expect the view from this bay window will be better when we move in"][/caption]

As I said, it's still mainly exposed be…

They Build Houses Quick Here In Texas

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We are in the process of having a house built in Copperas Cove, Texas by D.R. Horton. Since the lot is only about 15 minutes from our house, we end up going out there at least every couple of days. For the first two weeks or so, progress was a bit slow. But then, this week things really picked up. Just last week, Tuesday, there were still holes in the dirt with the pipes exposed. Then today, when we got our there, we were greeted by this sight:

[caption id="attachment_3677" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="front view of the house frame, from the curb"][/caption]

And here are a couple more angles:

[caption id="attachment_3680" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="View from the back yard "][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3681" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Imagine a bay window here, looking into what will be the Kitchen and Living Room"][/caption]

Jaiden Wants The Purple Fish

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So I made the mistake of letting Jaiden see the Beta fish when we were in Walmart the other day. She's had a fish before, a goldfish, but unfortunately that experiment didn't end well. Now-a-days, if you were to ask Jaiden where something goes when it dies, her answer would most likely be: "flush it down the toilet".

One of my friends online warned me that it was kind of cruel to put a goldfish in a bowl, with no filtration system. I suppose she was right. That said, the goldfish was one of those 20 cent guys, who's fate, if we hadn't bought him, was to be fed to a larger fish anyway. So I don't feel all that guilty.

This time we prepared slightly better. After I heard "I want the purple fish" for about the 5th time before we'd even left the aisle, I knew it would be wise to stop and look at the "tanks". We still didn't get a full on fish tank. But at least this little plastic jobbie does have an undergravel filter, one o…

Money For Nothing ...

I'm not an Internet Marketer. I've never been willing to work hard enough at it to try to make any real money.

That being said, I do end up earning $3-$6 a day, on a pretty consistent basis, for doing pretty much nothing ... or at least nothing new .. today.


I know all about choosing keywords, optimizing my sites, building backlinks, etc., etc., etc.,

But really, I don't do any of it.

The little bit of passive income that I earn from Internet marketing is pretty much a combination of two things:


Luck - The majority of the posts and/or websites that I have which, actually earn any money on a consistent basis were total accidents. They were/are domain names I found while searching for something else. Random pictures I took, and decided to write posts about. Or posts that I wrote mainly for information purposes (in many cases, so that I would have an easy way to reference something I wanted to remember how to do). For the most part, websites that I've set up, or post…

Throw Away Clothes?

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Wouldn't it be cool if clothes shopping was more like grocery shopping? We'd make a weekly list of what we need, check the sales pages of the local paper, then head off to our favorite stores to stock up on the "ingredients" for our upcoming "wardrobe menu".

Now I'm sure there are several potential drawbacks to my plan .. I can think of a few right now .. but we're not gonna go there .. because that's not what this post is about. ;-)

You see, for me, the major upside of "throw away clothes" drowns out any drawbacks; big time ... No Laundry!!!

Yes, I'm not a fan of Ye Olde washer and dryer .. or more specifically what comes out of the washer and dryer ... namely clothes that needs to be folded and put away .. blah.

Yea, yea, I know I could just take our clothes to a laundry service, and pay someone else to wash and fold our stuff. But why ruin a good old fashioned irrational fantasy with common sense alternative solutions?

LOL, wo…