December 30, 2006
Tim's been keeping track of who texts more, me or Josh. Below are the results from 12/25/06 to 12/30/06.
Tim Sargent says (8:36 PM):
Your messages - 568 in 30 days.  Josh - 410 in 6 days.  That gives you a 18.93/day average, and Josh a 68.33/day average.
Tymbr says (8:37 PM):
can I blog that?
Tim Sargent says (8:37 PM):
Don't forget to blog the Parent's Curse either - approximately 2:30 PM, December 30, 2006.
Yeah, Josh actually ASKED for the Parent's Curse today. Does that count?
Genius might be described as a supreme capacity for getting its possessors into trouble of all kinds.
- Samuel Butler

Star Wars Exhibit Part I

I'll add captions when I have a little more time, but right now I just wanted to get the photos up.

Today's Family Adventure

The first exhibition of its kind, Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, combines costumes and props from all six Star Wars films with real-world technologies, video interviews with filmmakers, scientists and engineers, and two large Engineering Design Labs, where visitors can build and test speeders and robots. Visitors will explore prototypes, learn about the engineers and designers who are creating new technologies, and discover intriguing similarities between how scientists and filmmakers think.

You can bet I'm taking pictures. And hope we can take a ride in the Millennium Falcon. .. and after adding up the price of admission, we're going to buy an OMSI membership. Which means at least 3 more visits to OMSI in the next year. But they do have OMNIMAX. Tim and I saw one of the Star Wars movies there in their IMAX theater a few years ago.

FW: Don't Come To Church This Sunday

December 29, 2006

Serious...Stay Home This Sunday

It's not every day that your pastors tell you NOT to come to church. But, on December 31st we want to encourage you to spend the day with your family. Westport Church will NOT be having a gathering!

5 Things To Know:

  • Westport HAS MOVED to our new location
  • Find out what '5' means - January 7th @ 10 am
  • Pastor's Connection Night - January 7th @ 5 pm
  • Portico Begins January 14th
  • Westport does not have a gathering THIS Sunday!

20085 NW Tanasbourne Drive, Hillsboro

January 7th @ 10 am

Click here for a map to our new location

*If you have a contribution that you need to submit this week, please visit www.WestportContributions.com

PMSing and no time to blog

December 24, 2006
The quality might not be that great, but hey, it's an audioblog, recorded on my new toy.
December 9, 2006

I'm getting paid to sit around. The systems are down site-wide. The funny thing is I was able to get into everything I

Every Parent's Worst Nightmare

December 6, 2006
Want to see me age 20 years and gain grey hair in a matter of a few heartbeats? Have my son go missing for a few hours.

The Crisis

I get off work at 3:30PM. I got home at 3:40PM. Josh doesn't have his key this week (it got left at a friend's over the weekend) and so I make it home, wait for him, then go get Joy. I waited until 4:15PM. Josh is usually home by 3:45/3:50. 4:15 has been the latest when he takes the bus. I left a way for him to get in the house, went to pick up Joy and kept calling home every few minutes to see if he was there. Panic begins to set in after I get Joy and call Tim to let him know that Josh isn't home and did he happen to mention if he was going somewhere after school? Tim confirms that my firstborn did NOT say anything about going to a friend's, or a
game, nor has he received a call about any afterschool activities.

Josh didn't mention anything to anyone, and it's the middle of the week; so I was starting to really really worried. He ALWAYS calls. So much so that sometimes it's annoying, but after yesterday, I'll take the annoyance over the worry and dread and fear.

I called Tim again. He suggested that I check the HS campus and see if he had stayed after for a game or something. I take the long way from Shute Park Library to Faith's HS campus, looking at every single bus stop on TV Highway to see if he was waiting, or walking or something. The only thing I didn't check was the Hillsboro Transit Center. And I was still calling home every few minutes. So I get to the campus and go in. There's a basketball practice going on and I see a few of Josh's friends who are on the team, but not my boy. I call Tim again and he says he'll be home soon and suggests a few people to call. I negate him on a few people thinking that they live too far away, still under the impression that he would have either taken the bus from school and then the MAX, or else taken the school bus to the HS campus and then the bus and MAX home or gotten a ride. As soon as I got home I called the family that usually brings him home. They hadn't. The mom asked her son and he said he thought he heard something about him going home with another family. I called that family (actually one that Tim had mentioned) and got the answering machine. By the time I finished leaving a message I was in tears. It was about 5:00. I didn't know where Josh was for 1.5 hours. Not long, but a lifetime as I tried not to think about what could have happened to him in that hour and a half.

Next call was to the police. I was starting to really cry by thenand had Tim call. The number is programmed into our phone from when I ran the daycare, no hunting required. He called and started the process for a missing person's report. The police said they would send someone out soon...

Josh walked in the door 15 minutes later to see me sitting on the couch crying. It was 5:15, I was an emotional wreck. First thing out of Josh's mouth was "I'm sorry I didn't call. I remembered as soon as we got in the car to come home." At that moment the mom of the family who had them called to let me know that her DH and kids were on their way to my house and that she thought Josh had called. I let her know that he had just walked in the door. I couldn't stop crying. The dad poked his head in and said it was his fault that he didn't remind Josh and apologized for the worry and Josh was still trying explain the chain of events.

The relief I felt, along with the "Do I ream him up one side and down the other?" feeling conflicted and I just sent him to his room for an indefinite period while I got sorted out. Tim and I talked about really getting him a cell phone so that we could call him when something like this happens. Hasn't been an issue because he ALWAYS calls, if just to check on when I am getting home. He's called late, but never NOT called.

Resolution: A little while later I went upstairs and heard Josh in a nearly tearful voice talking to Tim. Later Tim said he had never seen Josh so contrite or remorseful. He seemed to really understand the worry he had put me through. A little while later Josh came in asking for his punishment. I told him I hadn't decided but a gf who called wanted me to smack him upside his head for forgetting. When I told him this he asked if I would. It would make him feel better he said. So I did. And then sent him on his way.

Josh the jokester
He came in and asked -- all smiles and charm -- "Mom, since I had you worried, can we go to the T-Mobile store after school tomorrow and get a cell phone?" I so wanted to throw something at him!

The thought of something happening to him scared me so much. I kept cool, calm, and collected until that second phone call and not getting any immediate reassurance that he was OK. I NEVER want to go through that again.

How to Make Your Christmas Lights Flash to Music - WikiHow

December 4, 2006
You've probably seen videos of Christmas lights that are synchronized to music. If you want your own lights to blink to the tune of your favorite song, here's how.
1. Decide how big you want it. A channel is a unit of lights that can be controlled individually. For example, a single bush in your yard may be a channel. All the lights in a channel work as a unit (you can't flash an individual light bulb). 32 to 64 channels is a good size to start with.
2. Stock up! The best time to buy lights is the day after Christmas. Many times you will find lights that were normally priced around $2 a strand fall to $0.50. Check out Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes, Home Depot, K-Mart, etc. Don't be afraid to be seen with a shopping cart full of 100 strands of lights!
3. Obtain a control system. You will need hardware that hooks up to your computer. You can buy a system completely built, a kit, or a full do-it-yourself system. More information is available through the External Links below.

* A fully built system will work right out of the box. It will cost you about $20 - $25 per channel. It can be purchased from online vendors. Choose this option if the thought of actually doing any work on electronics (especially soldering) scares you!
* A kit will cost from $15 or so per channel. It's pretty much the same thing as in their fully built product without the enclosure. Because it is very simple to place an electronics board in an enclosure, this may be a great option to save you money. Some vendors sell everything you need to build a control system, including the bare circuit board and the parts. If you are willing to solder a little bit, check this out.
* A do-it-yourself system has a very low cost of $5 per channel on up. The price depends on how much you actually do yourself. A system consists of a controller, which communicates with your computer, and solid state relays (SSRs), which actually switch the lights. SSRs can be bought or made yourself. With a do-it-yourself option, you will spend lots of time making your hardware, but the cost savings can make up for it. You also have total customization of your hardware, and will be able to fix problems easily.
4. Get help. This is a very big project, so sign up for the forums the sites listed below.
5. Get software. If you buy LOR or AL products, they have software available for purchase. You may also wish to hand-code a program in almost any major programming language (usually not for pre-built products, as most of their protocols are closed-source).
6. Enlarge
Design your display. Design the actual outside portion of your display. Common elements to include are:

* Mini lights or net lights on landscaping
* Icicle lights or c-series lights on roof
* Mini Trees These are 2 to 3 foot tall trees, often made of tomato cages wrapped in lights of one or multiple colors. They are arranged in a line or a triangle and are very useful in an animated display.
* Mega Trees This usually consists of a large pole with lights extending from the top to a large ring around the base. Again, it is very useful in animation.
* Wireframes Metal frames with lights attached.
* Blowmolds Plastic lighted sculptures.
* C9 Lights on yard perimeter
* Deer, trees, etc. purchased from store
7. Program your show. Here comes the time consuming part! Decide on music that you will synchronize to, then start programming on your time grid. Don't try to do it all at once! This will probably take a couple of months to several, depending on how long your show is and how many channels you have. How to do this varies by the software program you choose.
8. Let them hear you. Syncing to music won't be worth it if visitors to your display can't hear it! Speakers playing the same music over and over again would drive the neighbors crazy, so in most cases you will need to broadcast over an FM frequency. Please see the warnings section at the bottom of this page.
9. Get powered up. Make sure your home has enough outside power to run your lights. A typical mini light strand draws about 1/3 amp. Speaking of power, computerizing your display will have a lower electric bill than a static display. This is because not all the lights are on at once. Please see the warnings section at the end.
10. Publicize. Put a sign in your yard. Make a web site. List on SantaStars.com. Tell your friends. Doing all this work will not be worth it if no one comes to see your display. Don't go to extremes, but make sure people know about you.
11. Set up.
12. Maintain your display. Go outside every morning and check your display. Repair or replace broken lights or damage caused by weather or vandals. Make sure things are ready to run the next night.


* Talk to your neighbors before you start. There's nothing worse than investing months in planning, and having the police shut you down on the first night.
* If you're building a really elaborate display, talk to the local police about noise ordinances, traffic flows, and ask if they have any concerns. It is much easier to prevent problems than correct them.
* Use your time wisely. This is a big project, so don't be afraid to get help or try to do things more efficiently.
* Signing up for the forums at Christmas lighting sites is a good idea. You will get help from others and help others.
* FPGAs make fantastic custom control devices, which can hook between an RS232 connection on a PC and a relay board for the lights. An entry level Spartan 3e Xilinx demo board is around $150


* FM Transmitters may or may not comply with FCC rules! The transmitters will broadcast at a very low power, so they should not cause any interference.
* Do not do anything to the Belkin other than extend the antenna! Building an amplifier could get you into serious trouble! If the transmitter causes anyone to have interference, your only choice is to shut it down. More information on the FCC rules can be found here.
* When you are dealing with lights you are dealing with HIGH VOLTAGE! United States line voltage (115 volts AC) can KILL YOU. Always use a GFCI on any circuit that is outside, including your lights, for your safety and the publics.
* This is time consuming. Start at least 6 months in advance, more for DIY systems.

Things You'll Need

* Control Hardware
* Control Software
* Time
* Willpower
* A moderate sum of money
* Christmas Spirit! Even in June when listening to the same 5 seconds of Christmas music over and over again.

Related wikiHows

* How to Buy a Christmas Tree from a Tree Farm
* How to Decorate Your Front Yard for Christmas

* How to Put up Christmas Lights Outside

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