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.