Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Greatest Gift

Scott's Fort Benning Army Graduation

Scott is a man of few words.

Every single message he has ever left for me sounded just like this: “Hey Pappy, it’s Scottie. Give me a call.”

Despite his phone communication skills, we have managed to create a pretty amazing relationship after 36 years of brotherhood. It could be his independence, humor, or pure desire to have fun all the time that makes me want to hang out with him. It could be how simple things like fishing, hiking, or a long argument about politics seems to satisfy his needs.

Mostly, I think that what I love about him is that Scott has a pure heart without the right words to express what’s inside it. Well, that was true - until August 7, 2009.

In the 90’s Scott joined the Navy and served all 4 years in Nevada during the first gulf war. One particular day, after I hadn’t seen him in 2 years and hadn’t spoken to him in months – I placed a call that I remember clearly. It went just like this.

Me “Scottie, it’s Pappy!”

Scott “Hey man, what’s up?”

Me “Not much, I’m thinking of coming out there.”

Scott “OK, great. When?”

Me “Maybe the first week in March, how does that sound.”

Scott “Sounds, good – call me when you land.”


And I did. And that was that.

We picked up like we had never been apart. I met his new wife, learned to make turkey jerky, caught tarantulas, scorpions, went hunting, touched an F-14 Tomcat, learned how to ride a motorcycle, and a million other things.

Fast forward to the summer of 2009. The construction company that Scott owned and ran by himself after leaving the Navy took him to Florida and eventually Texas. It was there that he told me he was going to join the military again - this time the Army. A few months later, I landed in Alabama with my mother and sister and we watched him graduate from infantry school.

Scott's Fort Benning Army Graduation

Scott was 41 years old, and was in the top of his class for physical fitness even though it was killing him keeping up. After graduation ceremonies we went to a very nice lunch with 5 of our family members and Scott began to tell us this story:

“At the end of training all of us soldiers are taken miles away from the base for 5 days to play war games and prove you learned to be an infantryman. We carry our ruck sacks everywhere we go which weigh 30+ lbs. We sleep when we can and where we can - on the cold and wet ground - while crawling towards a faux enemy. One morning, we were taken on a 3 mile run for no good reason. It was exhausting.

We trained on reacting to “contact”, engaging enemies, walking in formation and sleeping in the mud. It was exhausting.”

I look up from my lunch and think “Wow, Scottie is really telling a great story here - and he’s passionate about it.”

He continues “After the 5th day, we began our last ruck march. 12 miles through the woods this time, no roads. It was the single most exhausting thing I have ever done in my life. My 40 year old body is beat down from all this exercise, not enough sleep and my pack feels like it’s 100 lbs not 35.

After 10 miles, we walked up a road that seemed like it went 90 degrees straight into the sky. They told us it was called “Stairway to Heaven”. From there we began our final march to Honor Hill and the most amazing thing happened: 100’s of soldiers lined the road to greet us and cheer us on to the end. They lit their flashlights with different color filters and shined them on the road and us and yelled things like “GO GO!” and “Yeah!” They all cheered and clapped as we ran by. For the first time in days, I had a burst of energy from the support of my fellow soldier and knowing I was close to the gates of Honor Hill, I ran the fastest I could.

We met our drill sergeants and for the first time they treated us like humans! They stopped yelling and actually shook our hands. Then an amazing thing happened: The drill sergeant approached me and awarded me my “cross rifles”, looked me in the eyes and said “Welcome to the Infantry, Soldier”.

And then Scott paused here.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out the actual gold cross rifle pin he earned and said “Pappy, I want you to have this. You’ve always been there to support me and are a great friend and brother.  You are a great example for our family and yours, and the second that I was awarded this pin, I knew that I wanted you to have it.”

Cross Rifle Infantry Pin

And now you know the story of The Greatest Gift that I have ever received.

P.S. I planned on writing this post in 2009 when I got home but life got in the way. Then, this week I learned that Scott is probably being deployed to Afghanistan as a dog handler in the next few months. The dog will either be a bomb dog or a tracking dog - either way it’s the front lines. Right where an Infantryman belongs.

The Old Spice guy is back

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Watching a bubble freeze



Paige is on week two of her guitar lessons.

Digital Life Hack: How to listen to the best music on your iPod or iPhone

Over the years I have managed to rip or buy 2,197 songs - or 6 straight days of listening - into our iTunes library.

The question is: When you want to only listen to the best songs, from all artists, in all genres - what's the easiest way to do it?

iTunes has Smart Playlists that can either be user defined or are automatically generated based on you.  Today - we'll be using the automatically generated "My Top Rated" playlist.

What is a Smart Playlist?

Smart Playlist: A Smart Playlist is a playlist that is created by setting content criteria instead of individual content selection. iTunes includes a few Smart Playlists when you first install it, including "Top 25 Most Played" and "My Top Rated."

The Digital Life Hack:

While listening to any song, rate it 4 or 5 stars.  Then, when you are in the mood to listen to only the best songs, select the My Top Rated playlist and your personal concert is created!

Tip: Make sure the playlist is not limited to 25 songs by clicking on the playlist in the left pane, then File -> Edit Smart Playlist -> Then uncheck "Limit to 25 items".  Also make sure Live updating is checked.

You may be interested in searching for a new iPod

Sunday, January 16, 2011

That Mentos Spider Commercial if you missed it

For my father. A BMW Story.

This is a photo story of (the author's) father's 1958 BMW R50:

Boy meets girl, gets married, buys motorcycle. Rides it for 60,000
miles and has accident when wife is pregnant with 3rd child. (me) Wife
orders motorcycle to be taken off road until all her children are
grown and on their own. One day when bike is moved to a different
storage location, son sits on bike and dreams of being a Jedi Master
like his father. Couple grows old together and bike is not ridden for
40 years. Husband is now a grandfather of 7 and married for 50 years,
when he dies of a stroke at age 71.

Son looks over the old rotting machine and finds note attached to it
from his father to him. Son decides to restore the old 1958 BMW R-50
as a tribute to his father. With the help of many friends, especially
Peter Nettesheim, world renowned BMW collector, bike is restored to
look even better than it did when it was built in Germany.
Watch it at 720p in full screen for best quality.

Limit apps (and more) that others can access on your iPhone or iPad

As part of my thirst for techie knowledge, I would estimate that I read about 150 websites (through an RSS reader) a day.

I rarely "unitask".  I really enjoy sitting down after dinner to watch the news and begin to "Read the entire internet so you don't have to.®"  So, I was surprised today when I read about Restrictions on Apple's iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad and had never seen it before.

I have always endeavored to involve my daughters, Paige (7) and Kaitlyn (5), in technology. An example of that is Paige's review of the iPad and an iPad App, Pocket Pond.  Most recently their Angry Birds obsession has been leaving me without my iPad for long periods of time.

Leaving the iPad in the hands of the girls comes with a few risks.  I have a case, so that reduces that concern, but what about content restrictions?  There are some not-so-nice-things on YouTube and the internet they could access if not watched carefully.

Enter iOS's Restrictions setting. Settings -> General -> Restrictions

Here you can restrict (through a 4 digit PIN code) a user's access to Safari, YouTube, iTunes, Installing Apps, Deleting Apps, Location Services, Accounts, In-App Purchases, Select what ratings of movies, TV music, podcasts, and apps they can access, plus Game Center settings (not that anyone uses Game Center).

Click here for the PDF link to Apple's iPad user guide.

You also may be interested in Searching for iPhone or iPad accessories.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

3 year old conducts the 4th movement of Beethoven's 5th Symphony

How to rip CDs with iTunes

How to rip CDs with iTunes: "How to rip CDs with iTunes You already have a load of music just waiting to make its way to your computer and iOS device--your CD library. Here are the steps for turning your discs into digital files.


Daily Show Compares the fall of Saddam to the iPhone?

Jon Stewart's Daily Show has done it again. They've made it all seem so - clear.

The iPhone heading to Verizon from AT&T is *just* like the fall of Saddam.


Video from the show:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Verizon iPhone Announcement
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How Personal Hotspot Works On The Verizon iPhone (Pictures)

How Personal Hotspot Works On The Verizon iPhone (Pictures): "

There’s actually only one key difference between the Verizon iPhone 4 and the AT&T iPhone 4 (well, besides the network, obviously). But it’s a big one: Personal Hotspots. Yes, the Verizon iPhone will come with this killer feature that will allow it to become an internet hub for up to 5 WiFi devices to connect to.

And while there is no word on pricing yet (neither Apple nor Verizon would budge or slip-up when asked repeatedly — but note the “Additional usage charges may apply.”), we were able to see it in action in the demo room following today’s event. As you might expect from Apple, it’s super simple to set up and use.

As you can see above, there’s a new “Personal Hotspot” area in the Settings app that’s a part of the new iOS 4.2.5. Clicking on this will launch the screen below. Here, you can turn it “on” as well as set a password if you choose to set it up for Wi-Fi use.

But you don’t have to connect using Wi-Fi. You can also set the Personal Hotspot up to use Bluetooth or USB. Obviously, the latter two are for one-to-one connections. Essentially, it looks like this replaces the “tethering” option found in the current iOS build. An Apple rep I talked to believed this was the case as well.

If you click the button to turn the Wi-Fi “on”, you’ll see the screen below pop-up making sure you want to turn the Wi-Fi on (presumably this will eat up more battery life).

And if you turn it on, you’re done. As you can also see in the “Network” area, the Personal Hotspot is set to “on”. You simply open your computer network settings and choose “iPhone”.

Apple would not say if this feature will find its way to the AT&T iPhone as well.

More Coverage: