Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Over 21?

This morning on my way to work, I had the interesting experience of being carded. Yes, I was on my way to work and even though it was New Year's Eve Day, I was not buying alcohol -- at least I think I wasn't.

For those that know Lori and I, you know that we are not big drinkers. Even on New Year's we are likely to confine ourselves to nothing more than a wine cooler, so to get carded for a beverage purchase was quite ironic. It gets even funnier when you find out what beverage I purchased.

So on my way to work, I had to make a detour to the tire shop to fix a flat tire on our Subaru. Yesterday the tire shop balanced and aligned the tires, so I thought it had something to do with that. Once the flat was fixed (possibly a bad valve stem or seal around the rim), I stopped at the gas station across the street to fill up the tank and grab a quick and convenient (albeit, unhealthy) breakfast. I chose a cereal & milk bar and a bottle of water. Yes, a bottle of WATER! I got carded for a bottle of WATER!

So I get to the register and the clerk scans the bottle of water. The register gave her some sort of error message relating to a price check. Most likely, the UPC code did not get updated in the register's database. I told her the price that was on the refirgerator shelf and she entered it. The register then proceeded to give her an error message to check my ID for an alcohol purchase. Needless to say, everyone including the other clerks and store manager were baffled. I joked that the register must have known something that we didn't and that the bottle of water must actually have had vodka in it.

When I got to work, I told Lori about it and she joking asked if I had drank the water while driving to work. I repeated my story to my co-workers, who joking stated they would keep an eye on me because my bottle of "water" was already half empty.

In case anyone is wondering, the water I purchased was a single serve 16.9 oz bottle of Nestle Pure Life. I bought it at the GoMart on Grafton Road/University Avenue in Morgantown. You might want to pick some up before your next New Year's Eve bash or Super Bowl party. Whatever the occasion, don't forget your ID!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Seasons of the Kitchen

A couple of months ago, I was "commissioned" to write a poem for an uncoming (potentially upcoming) cookbook for a local non-profit organization. At the time, I was busy trying to finish school, so I have just now had the time to write the poem. I had mulled the ideas over in my head the entire time, so it only took a few minutes to actually put it on paper. It is only my sceond "commission" ever, neither of which I did I ask for anything in return. This is only my first attempt, so let me know what you think.

Seasons of the Kitchen

Homemade soups
To warm our souls
On the cold winter days
Of fresh fallen snow

Easter bread and holiday ham
Springtime favorites to bake
Potlucks and pitch-ins
Always something to make

Cherries and berries
Summertime’s firsts
Ice tea and lemonade
To quench our thirst

Hotdogs and potato salad
Deviled eggs and more
For an outdoor barbeque
With campfire Smores

Grandma’s preserves
Take home a pair
Of first place ribbons
At the county fair

Popcorn balls and cereal squares
A caramel apple or two
For ghosts and goblins
And a Halloween few

Turkey and stuffing
And marshmallowed yams
Pineapples and cherries
Dress holiday hams

Cranberries and walnuts
And pumpkins spiced
A fruitful autumn harvest
For a Thanksgiving that’s nice

Candy canes and eggnog
Fruitcake delights
Sugar cookies for Santa
On Christmas Eve night

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The Risk Family would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

May your Christmas be bright and joyous and full of happy memories.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Graduates

Today, I graduated from college! It has been a long, hard journey and I could not have done it without my loving wife Lori. She has been my rock through it all - proofreading papers, quizzing me before tests, and taking care of everything in the household so that I could succeed. Although Lori will not receive a piece of paper for her efforts, I have title this posting "The Graduates" because she has has earned the degree as much as I have.

Thank you, Lori, for being my rock.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Free Web Friday

They say the best things in life are free and with the economy in decline, free could not be a more welcomed word. However, many of the so-called "freebies" are often laden with strings attached to them. On the internet, there are infinite numbers of "free trials" that require one to purchase something after 14 or 30 days. Other things "freebies" are not worth the cost (yes, some free things are worth giving them away). To that end, I decided that I would post a series of truly free - no strings, no catches - yet also practical things I found on the internet. Below are some things I have found so far. I am interested in hearing about those free things that others may come across as well, so be sure to let me know.

Free Ringling Brothers Circus Tickets - Ringling Brothers Circus promotes itself as an experience of a lifetime. An experience that no one should ever miss out on. To ensure that children have the opportunity to see the circus, Ringling Brothers gives away free circus tickets to any child during their first year. THE TICKET NEVER EXPIRES. To claim your baby's free circus ticket, go to in your baby's first year and sign up. Tickets can not be replaced if lost. If you have multiple births (twins, etc.), you can contact Ringling Brothers through their website to request tickets for each baby.

Free Books - Do you love to read? Don't have the time to go to the library or the money to purchase new books from the bookstore? Well, now you don't have to worry about either. Three websites offer free e-books or audio books that can be delivered over the internet right to your computer.

Project Gutenberg offers more than 20,000 e-books and audio books ranging from classics like Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island to lesser known authors and titles such as Francis Buckley and Recollections of 1916, 1917, and 1918. Project Gutenberg converts books to e-books after the copyright period expires.

University of Pennsylvania Online Books Page offers more than 30,000 e-books in much the same way as Project Gutenberg.

LibriVox offers free audio books as downloadable MP3 files. LibriVox does not have as many volumes as Project Gutenberg or the University of Pennsylvania, but they still have a respectable 1,800 + volumes available as audio books. Each audio book is read by volunteers.

Free Anti-Virus Software - For a free, but very basic (no spam filter, firewall, or spyware), anti-virus software, please visit AVG.

Free Architectural Drafting Program - Google offers a free architectural drafting program with Sketchup. Sketchup allows users to create 3D drawings of just about anything they want. Design your dream house, layout a room full of furniture, or what ever else you desire.

Free Interior Paint Calculator - Are you thinking of repainting a room in your house? Don't know how much paint to buy. Try the Easy 2 DIY interior paint calculator at Easy2DIY.

That's it for today. I will keep a lookout for other free things on the internet and pass them on as I find them. Remember, if you find something, let me know, but it must be truly free (no trials, no strings, no catches) and it must be of practical value.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

FINAL - ly

This evening I took my last final exam as an undergraduate. The exam, for my U.S. Naval and Maritime History class, evolved in a rather interesting way. My exam was scheduled for 7 pm this evening, which was great because it gave me an extra hour to get from work to campus. This morning when we woke up, the weather report was not good, so Lori and I drove in together, dropping James off at daycare like we normally do when I don't have class. When I have class, we usually drive separately, but I don't trust the Honda on the icy roads as much as we trust the all-wheel drive of the Subaru, so we drove in together. Having the final exam scheduled for 7 pm would still allow us time to pick James up from daycare and then for me to drop Lori and James off at home before preceding to campus. Or so we thought....

As the day progressed, the weather followed the prediction and turned bad around mid-afternoon. Traffic in Morgantown ground to a standstill, and stayed that way until well after our quitting time at work. As we left work, we had to opt for going a different direction than normal, thus taking a much longer route, to avoid the heavy traffic, but even so, our route was still slow going. Knowing that I would not be able to make it to campus on time for my final, I called my professor and left him a message to say that I would be late, but that I would make it to class for the exam.

It took an hour and ten minutes to get to daycare to pick James up. By this time, traffic had thinned out and was moving at a much better pace than earlier. As we were approaching the exit to drop Lori and James off at home, my professor returned my call. I explained that the road conditions were not bad, but that traffic had held me up and I would be on my way shortly. My professor, understanding the situation, told me NOT to come to campus for my final, but to email him when I got home and he would email my final to me. I did, and I was able to take my final from home.

For anyone who knows me, knows how hard I have worked to get through school and also knows how I hold myself to a high standard. Upon receiving the email from my professor with the exam, I replied with the time I recieved it and promised that I would return the completed exam within a specified amount of time to be fair to everyone else in the class. And I did. It was a rather hard exam. The exam consisted of a section of identification and a section of 4 LONG essays. Being I had to return the exam by email, I was forced to type the exam. I do not type as quickly as I write, and I am sure my spelling and grammar were atrocious, but I succeeded. At approximately 9:15 PM, I finished my exam and returned it by email to my professor. After six years (working full-time and going to school 3/4 time), my undergraduate career has come to an end. On Saturday, I will walk across the stage to receive my "degree" (an empty envelope - degrees are mailed out in January) and say good-bye to alma mater.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

The Risk Family would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving. This year we are especially thankful for each other, our family and friends, our home, our health, and our freedom. We pray fro the safety of our troops and hoep to see them home soon.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Winding down

As the final semester of working on my bachelor's degree winds down, I am beginning to find myself a little lost. For the last six years I have thrown my entire self into my schoolwork and now that it will be over (at least until grad school), I am contemplating what I will do with my time.

OF COURSE, I will spend lots of time with Lori and James to make up for all the time I have lost with them studying, but I feel I will need to find a project for myself. I have several projects in mind and maybe, I can work on a few of them while I catch up on just relaxing. Here are my post graduation projects.

1. Continue building our family tree (currently 530 relatives, dating back to 1680s in 5 European countries).
2. Building a RELIABLE lighthouse file for my GPS. (See my posting dated 9-14-08.)
3. Clean out the house of anything we no longer use in preparation for next year's move to graduate school.
4. Catch up on some leisure reading.
5. Start writing poetry again.
6. Doing pre-graduate school research on my potential dissertation topic. (I want to make sure I don't lose drive and momentum.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

34 Shopping Days til Christmas!

It's hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner. Where exactly did this year go? In just a few weeks, we will begin mailing out Christmas and Hanukkah cards and exchanging gifts with all of our friends. Every year it seems our Christmas card and gift giving list grows - family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We certainly don't mind. We both enjoying giving gifts. It's the shopping we dislike. People are so rude at this time of year. It never ceases to amaze me at how hateful and rude people can be at a time when love and courteousness is suppose to fill the air. This is why you do your Christmas shopping on December 26th (or up to a week after Christmas)! Lori and I have actually done that for each other the past couple of years. It sure beats fighting the crowds.

Yesterday, however, Lori and I began our Christmas shopping for everyone else on our list and we actually did very well. We stayed within our budget (if you don't count sales tax), and we now have about 1/3 of our shopping complete.

Only 34 more days!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Old Man Winter

Old Man Winter has made his presence known at the Risk house. Although we had some flurries a couple of weeks ago, the real snow began falling yesterday and is scheduled to continue through tomorrow. We have about an inch on the ground already and are expecting up to six inches by the time the storm moves through.

Although, I have no problem with winter's arrival, I am disappointed at how short the autumn season has grown. It seems as though Spring and Fall both only last about three weeks anymore. We just had our Indian Summer last week and now we are shoveling snow.

Is this shortened season a product of moving to the mountains, or a product of global warming? I mean, when I lived in Indianapolis, we would have an occasional early winter, but fall and spring both seemed to last much longer.

Ah, well. At least we can look forward to snow days, hot chocolate, and the warmth of the holidays.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ohio State University

Today I visited the last of my potential graduate schools when I met with the history department at Ohio State University. Lori had a conference in Columbus, OH this past weekend, so we tacked on the extra day so I could visit the campus. I did not get an opportunity to check out the bookstore or the library because the campus is so large and I had to get back to the hotel to pick up James and Lori before check out. What I saw of the campus I really liked. Both Lori and I like the Columbus, OH area. It reminds me a lot of Indianapolis, which as everyone knows, I miss quite a bit.

My meeting went well and I learned a lot about the university and the department. It would be a nice place to study, but due to my interests, I would be traveling for weeks at a time to do my research because the necessary archives are on the east coast. The geographic scope of my research will probably limit itself once I get started, but currently I am anticipating my research taking me from Maine to South Carolina.

Applications are due by December 1st. I have everything complete an ready to submit except for my personal mission statement. I plan to complete that this weekend. Then the waiting game begins. I have heard from Delaware and William & Mary that my application pakcets have been received. I know Pittsburgh's was received because I hand-delivered it when I met with the department last week. Most schools will send out admissions notifications near the end of March / beginning of April. I promise to keep everyone posted.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

University of Pittsburgh

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting the History department at the University of Pittsburgh to learn about the graduate program. I met with Dr. Marcus Rediker, a highly respected expert in his field of Atlantic World history, and learned that my interests will not only be well served at the University of Pittsburgh, but also that my interests filled a void in the field of history. My interests focus on the field of maritime history, and in particular, how the maritime culture impacted the growth of American port cities. According to Dr. Rediker, research in the Atlantic World (maritime history) is a hot topic and many opportunities are growing. Within the filed of maritime history, Dr. Rediker indicated that research on port cities is lacking, but also a topic of growing interest. The new interest in the Atlantic World seems to stem from a different school of thought. In the past historians had viewed the oceans as a dividing force. Now historians are viewing the sea as a connector of peoples.

I sat in on one of Dr. Rediker's seminars and I really enjoyed the discussion of Bernard Bailyn's Atlantic History. The students were completely engaged and passionate about their views. It was interesting listening to them defend opposing viewpoints on the book, while respecting the views of others. I intend to add this book to my personal library within the next few days.

After the seminar, I had the opportunity to meet with two of Dr. Rediker's current students. We discussed their personal views about the program and each of them gave me an honest assessment of the programs strengths and weaknesses.

My application to the University of Pittsburgh is complete. I have completed 4 of the six applications to date. A fifth will be complete with the receipt of my transcript from WVU. I meet with the final school, Ohio State, on Monday. After that, I will focus on graduation, waiting to hear back on my applications, and spending time with Lori and James.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy Anniversary to my Sweetheart and Happy Birthday to our Little Man

No, we didn't have a typical anniversary, but life has been anything but typical for the last year. A slight improvement from last year's anniversary when I was ordered to rest and was three days away from having James. I was staying at my parents' house already since I was going to deliver up there so that I would have extra support after he was born. Jim was back and forth to Morgantown to work and go to class. He came up that Friday night of our anniversary to the news that I would be having a C-section Monday morning bright and early. We did manage to buy each other gifts. The theme ( I don't remember if it was modern or traditional) was wood so Mom and Dad went with me (they were afraid to leave me alone) to Hallmark and I bought Jim a Jim Shore Christmas piece which looks like wood but is actually resin...close enough. When we exchanged gifts that night, he had also bought me a Jim Shore piece. The first in our collection. Anyway, it has been an incredible year and I couldn't be happier with my two favorite boys. I love you both more than anything. I hope this year with the adventures that are sure to come is as good as the last. Happy Anniversary Sweetheart! and Happy 1st Birthday to my baby boy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Turning of a Leaf

We drove through West Virginia today on our way home from vacation and had the opportunity to see the beautiful autumn colors, in some areas, at their peak. Autumn is such a wonderful time. We admire the beauty of autumn and chose to get married in October because of that. Autumn is the time when God pull out his canvas and palette and starts painting the world a happy place and when he is done, he white washes it to start anew in the spring with the beautiful blooms.

But I have to say that I have been disappointed recently by the autumn colors. For the past several years they have been dusty and dry. I miss the vibrant colors of yesteryear and I long for their return. But alas, I feel as though they will not. I believe the dusty autumn I see is the result of our impact on our environment. It's hard to imagine that in West Virginia where the Wild and Wonderful forests should be able to overcome the pollution. I mean West Virginia is a sparsely populated state. But it seems that is not the case. The dusty autumn is indeed the Wild and Wonderful doing everything it can to clean our air for us. It really is a shame.

dusty autumn

the colors aren't as vibrant
as they were years ago
changes to our environment
has faded autumn's glow

the beauty of the autumn
once a fiery spark
of maples, oaks and sugar gums
now turn dusty dark

without the brilliant reds,
oranges and the yellows
summer fades to dead
as the wind of winter bellows

Iron and Candy

Today, Lori and I celebrated out 6th Anniversary like a couple of old married folks. We did not get each other any presents, not even a card. Is this what mrried life has come to so soon? It's not that either of us forgot. We both had good intentions. We even discussed the traditional and modern gifts for the sixth anniversary starting almost two weeks ago. Iron is the traditional gift, candy is the modern. I joked about getting Lori a cast iron skillet filled with chocolate.

So why didn't we get each other anything? Because we simply ran out of time and had too much going on. Lori has been trying to plan James' first birthday party and I have been busy with trying to graduate. We took some time off to go on vacation and had intended to do our anniversary shopping while we were relaxing, but again the time just got away from us.

So I would like to take this moment and wish Lori a Happy Anniversary! My life would not be complete without her and if anything should ever happen to her, I would have to be committed because I would lose my sanity. Lori is my life, and although I don't always show it, I love her more than anything in this world. Everything I do, I do with her in mind. She is my world. My best friend. My angel from above.

Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Lady and Sons

For those of you who watch the Food Network, you have undoubtedly heard of Paula Deen and her sons Bobby and Jamie. Today, we had the pleasure to eat at their restaurant The Lady and Sons while taking a day trip to Savannah. I must say that it was well worth the trip. In fact, not only has it been the best meal of our vacation so far, it will rank as one of the best meals I have ever had. Ironically, there was nothing fancy about it. The buffet ($14.95 for lunch) included fried chicken, baked chicken, mashed potatoes (red skinned), rice, gravy, lima beans, creamed corn, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green beans and potatoes, and collard greens. Dessert was also included which was served separately by our waitress. Choices included banana pudding, peach cobbler, and an ooey, gooey chocolate cake.

Reservations are required and only accepted in person beginning at 9:30 a.m. We arrived at 10:15 a.m. and were able to get a 12:30 p.m. seating for lunch. The restaurant spans multiple stories in a historic downtown Savannah building and was busy and had simple but minimal decorations with an open air atmosphere exposing the historic ventilation and electrical systems like an old warehouse. It was truly a memorable experience and I highly recommend visiting if you ever find yourself in the area.

After lunch, we stopped next door at the Paula Deen Store and got a chance to see Booby and Jamie in person. We did not get in line for autographs, and therefore did not personally meet them, because you had to buy a cookbook. However, it was pretty cool seeing them having watched them on TV.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Four Steps Before Thinking

James took his first four unassisted steps this evening into the middle of the kitchen. He was very balanced and stable in his steps and only stopped when he realized that he was not holding on to anything. It was funny to watch him when he stopped, because you could literally see the wheels turning in his head before he got down and started crawling. Once he thought about it, I guess he decided he wasn't suppose to be walking. Mommy and Daddy are so proud of our "Little Man". He turns one year old in just over two weeks.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Johns Hopkins

Today I visited the History Department at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and met with a couple of professors regarding the university's graduate program. Johns Hopkins graduate school is ranked ninth overall in the nation, and after meeting with Drs. Walters and Ditz, I believe that Johns Hopkins will be a great opportunity for graduate school. Hopkins' focus on research and, according to Dr. Ditz, "by extension (a great place for) older students" confirmed many of the opinions I had already formed from researching the department and school.

As I mentioned before, there are several factors besides the program that we have to consider, namely the job opportunities for Lori and the family support system in our city. Johns Hopkins' location provides the opportunity to fulfill these two concerns as Mike and Kathy are in Baltimore amd Mom and Dad Caterina would only be 3 1/2 to 4 hours away. When considering all factors, Johns Hopkins ranks in the top three schools on my list.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

William and Mary

While visiting Williamsburg this past week, I took the opportunity to meet with the graduate director and one of the history professors at the College of William and Mary. William and Mary is on my short list of potential graduate schools and after meeting with Drs. Meyer and Mapp, I feel more strongly about the school and its program. William and Mary is at the top of the spectrum in history and would be considered by most scholars as a small step behind the Ivy League schools of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Darmouth, and Columbia. In terms of colonial American history, William and Mary is second to none. I would be honored to attend graduate school there.

Realisitically, however, I must consider other factors, such as job opportunities for Lori, housing, and our support system since family would be far away. These other factors will come into play if I am accepted at William and Mary. The job opportunities would be different, but it seems the area is large enough to provide ample choices. Hampton, Newport News, and Richmond are not so far away as to be considered in the larger scope. Likewise, housing is no worse than most of the other schools that we are looking at, and in some cases may be more affordable. Only the support system then becomes a concern.

In most respects, my visit did not change any opinions. I knew the reputation of the school before I went, and we knew the issues of jobs, housing and supports prior to visiting. That being said, William and Mary did move up on my list because of the opportunities available at the school and the potential to learn at a highly respectable school.

For those who may not know the College of William and Mary, the College has produced such notable scholars as Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler as well as Supreme Court Justice John Marshall, Speaker of the House Henry Clay, and 16 signers of the Declaration of Independence. As a history major, it would be an honor to study in the same buildings once occupied by our founding fathers.

The Intelligence of a GPS System

I must say that I have always had a knack for directions, so why I decided I needed a GPS system is beyond me. I am not sure where my general knack for directions come from - hereditary (my father is generally good with directions as well) or from my past experience as a delivery driver (some things about driving directions are universal no matter where you find yourself, but many people take those items for granted and don't pay enough attention to the small details). Regardless, I purchased a Garmin nuvi 205w GPS a couple of weeks ago and I must say I have not been entirely thrilled. Maybe the hype over the GPS systems led me to expect more than what is realistic.

First, the GPS comes with preloaded Points of Interest (POIs) such as parks, movie theatres, restaurants, fuel stations, etc. For what ever reason, it seems that the POI that I am interested in is never in GPS's database. I have been told that only 5-25% of all POIs are loaded into the database. Lucky me, I should always seem to pick the POI that no one else thought was important enough to add to the database.

Second, the GPS allows you to download files to add to its "extensive" list of POIs. It even comes with its own software to install the file on the Garmin. GREAT! As many of you know, I love visitng lighthouses, so to add all of the lighthouses in the United States to the POI database would be wonderful. With that in mind, I found a lighthouse POI listing (free) and downloaded it to my new Garmin. To my dismay, the list did not work. So much for a freebie. I later found out that the file was in the .gpx format and my particular Garmin model only reads .gpi files. BUMMER! Then, I found another GPS POI site that allows you to convert .gpx files to the .gpi format. This site was again free. GREAT! I imported the .gpx file, converted it to .gpi and I was now ready to install the file. Unbeknownst to me, the POI Loader software (from Garmin) only loads .gpx files.

Now this may sound like a stupid question, but if the Garmin only reads .gpi files, why would their software only allow for the download of a .gpx file, which the Garmin can't read? Lucky for me, the free site that allowed me to convert the file also had the capabilities of download the .gpi file directly to the Garmin without using Garmin's worthless POI Loader software. Now I was truly ready to go.

I had played around with the GPS since I bought it, but this past week, Lori had a conference in Williamsburg, VA and "Little Man" and I tagged along. That allowed me to really use the Garmin for the first time in an area that I wasn't quite as familiar with.

Well, after returning from Williamsburg, I can say that the results were rather disappointing, particularly when using the POI database. You see, the Garmin tells you how far a POI is in terms of a direct line, not an actual route. This is quite frustrating when you are in the middle of nowhere and need to say, find a gas station. The Garmin reports that the filling station is 6.3 miles away. GREAT! Until you realize that after following the GPS system's directions to a T, you have traveled 20+ miles because the actual road does not run as the bird flies. I have to wonder if the gas station listed at 6.7 miles was actually closer. Lucky for us, we had enough gas to get where we needed to go.

End of story? Not quite. The best got saved for last.

So we decided to go check out a couple of the lighthouses from the POI list I downloaded. The first one we went to see was the Ferry Point Wharf Light outside of Portsmouth, VA. On the way Lori asked me if I thought the GPS would take all the fun out of trying to find lighthouses on our own (We've been know to wander around aimlessly looking for hidden treasures). The Garmin's directions were impeccable. The took us right to within 1000 feet of the lighthouse. The problem was we were on a gravel road in the middle of a cotton field and to get to the lighthouse we would have had to drive through the cotton field and trees that stood between the river bank and where we were. We did not get to see the lighthouse and our trip cost about 2 hours worth of time. At least "Little Man" got a good nap. The second lighthouse, the next day, was Two Marshes Lighthouse outside of Gloucester, VA. After 6. some odd miles turned into 24, we found ourselves at the end of someone's personal property with several NO TRESPASSING! signs posted. The lighthouse was again, just beyond our view and we did not get to see it either. Disappointed, we headed home. I chose to take a shorter route, though probably slower, and for the first 15 miles, the Garmin kept trying to get me to make a U-turn. After it realized that I wasn't making a U-turn, it seemed to get really confused and told me to make turns were turns weren't possible. Next time, I think we will go back to using our built in devices and see if we are more accurate.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Is football season over yet?

Well, I have to say I didn't have high hopes for the Colts this year. I wasn't sure if Marvin Harrison could come back from his injury last year and then when Peyton came down with a similar injury, it didn't look good. Last night only solidifed my thoughts that it is going to be a long season and this may be the beginning of the end. Not only did Harrison and Manning look bad, the defense was non existent. To top that, Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai both got injured.

If one team losing wasn't bad enough, my Fantasy Football team started out a thrid consecutive season with a loss. The last two years my team has ended up as the doormat of the league and I'm the commissioner! This is not going well.

In addition to the two losses, I had to suffer through a Pittsburgh win! At least lori has been kind enough not to rub it in. When does the season end?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

September 6, 2008

Well, the contractors officially finished up at the house today, one week and hundreds of dollars over budget, but at least we know our problem is fixed. For those that didn't know, the drainage pipe running through our back yard had had become crushed (because of age I guess) and had to be replaced. The contractor had originally said it would only take a week, barring any rain. It did rain one day, but how one day turns into a week I really don't know. I am happy know that it is fixed and I can now move on to worry about bigger fish - like how my fantasy football team is going to do this year!

Friday, August 29, 2008

What are they thinking....

Not all of our posts will be about the day to day chronicles of the Risk family. Some posts will actually share our thoughts on issues. This is one such post.

I watched a video on CNN earlier and decided I had to soundoff on the obsurdity of the Air Canada's Jazz Airlines division to remove life preserver vests from all flights. The reasoning - to save fuel. Now, I understand the need to cut fuel costs and that the reduction of weight will use less fuel, but we are talking about less than 25 kg, or one small child. The arguement is that passengers can use the seat cushion floatation devices and that none of the airlines planes fly more than 50 km from land. These are absolutely insane reasons. Life preserver vests were put on planes because the seat cushion floatation device was not adequate for long term use. (I imagine they are probably rather hard to hold onto and after an extended period in the water, one would become even more exhausted and eventually have to let go.) Secondly, 50 km is quite a distance and when you are talking about the cold north Atlantic around Nova Scotia (where Jazz Airlines appear to be based), it is not likely that one will swim to shore.

Maybe Jazz Airlines isn't worried about it because they have crash proof planes. Or maybe the airline feels that if a plane crashes over water, no one will survive anyway.

Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about flying. Let's hope the trend doesn't catch on here in the United States.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

August 28, 2008

Well, I had my second class this evening - the History of Russia. Seems like it will be an interesting class. It was hard to follow the progression of the various tribes and kingdoms prior to 1000 BCE and it is interesting to see how each conqueroring tribe - Huns, Vikings, etc. grew more savage the the one before. Once we get to Peter the Great and the Romanov clan, this will get really interesting and move a bit better.

Tomorrow is my follow up with Dr. Burns who did my gall bladder surgery. Haven't had any problems since and I expect I will get a clean bill of health. Now, if I could just get the pain center to call me back about the pre-authorization for the prescription they wrote three weeks ago. The insurance doesn't want to cover until I have tried at least four other NSAIDs. I've tried at least five prescription NSAIDs and haven't been able to stomach any of them. Insurance - biggest bunch of crackpots and the largest LEGAL scam on earth - no offense John.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

August 27, 2008

Well, it's that time again. Classes started last evening at Fairmont State for my final semester as an undergraduate. I think I am really going to enjoy my Tuesday night class. It's U.S. Naval and Maritime History. As many of you know, I plan to study maritime history in graduate school. That's part of what makes me excited about this class. It is the first time that Fairmont State has offered the class and I was really surprised when I saw it on the schedule.

As far as graduate school, I have 2 of the six applications complete - University of Delaware and University of Maryland. I still have to submit letters of recommendation and transcripts, but otherwise those are complete. I have started the applications for Johns Hopkins University and University of Pittsburgh. I hope to have those done this weekend. I will hopefully start the last two applications next week - Ohio State (sorry all you Penn State fans - better OSU than Michigan?) and William & Mary. Wish me luck. The best thing would be for me to get accepted at all the schools and have my choice, but I don't know how likely that is to happen. I'm just hoping I get accepted to one of them. Competition in history is pretty tough. Only about 7-8% of applicants get accepted to any one school. That's why I had to apply to six - to increase my odds of finding something.

Well, it's off to do my homework. A 20 page annotated bibliography on U.S. maritime history. Believe it or not, I am actually excited about doing it because I will then be able to use that bibliography in grad school and it is a subject I really enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


What a great way to share what is going on with our family. It is going to be a very busy fall for the Risk family. Jim is back in class this week after a VERY short break after summer classes. He'll be in class Tuesday and Thursday nights so Lori and Little Man will be hanging out. Next week, Lori has a conference in Williamsburg, VA. Jim and James will be coming along to enjoy the trip and Jim will take advantage of the opportunity to visit William and Mary College as a potential graduate school. We'll be headed to Hilton Head in October with Grandma and Grandpa for a much needed week's vacation. Jim is also planning to visit Johns Hopkins, Pitt and Ohio State University to meet with their History departments. In between, we hope to meet up with friends and family, get things done around the house, study, play and keep our sanity! Then we look forward to Jim's graduation from Fairmont State University in December. That will definitely be a time to celebrate with family and friends. We hope to see/talk to everyone soon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Welcome to Our Family Blog!

Hello everyone!

We just discovered, thanks to our good friend Jennifer, this great blog site. It's compeltely customizable and it's FREE! We hope to maintin this blog in the same manner that we maintain Baby James' Online Scrapbook. Did I mention that it's FREE?! Once we get the feel for the blogsite, we will be adding lots of content and hopefully everyone will be able to keep updated on what's going on with the Risk family. Oh, and by the way -- it's FREE!