Well, it's been a little while, eh? I guess I've had blogger's block, and for that matter get-stuff-done-around-the-house block too. I really don't know what it is, but during the spring semester I was eagerly awaiting summer break so I could finally get stuff done that I had been putting off. Now that it's here I just haven't felt like doing anything when I get home from work.

Well, that is beginning to change. I got the ol' convertible horse trailer street legal by adding the required lights. That was a bigger project than I thought it was going to be, but I got my first load of rocks with it yesterday. I managed to get one of the biggest ones yet. About 1,200 lbs, I'd say. Maybe I should try and find a really big scale, so I'd have something better than my wild estimates.

Sunday I went to my cousin's high school graduation, well the reception anyway. Church didn't get out early enough to get to the ceremony, but I really wasn't complaining after sitting through Katie's and my mom's graduation ceremony a few weeks ago - exceedingly boring. I would have a great picture to post of him jumping on the trampoline in his cap and gown, but I forgot my camera up at his house. This is also why I didn't get my Memorial Day post up yesterday morning like I wanted to. Maybe I'll post a late one.

Also on Saturday, Shannon and I went to a going away coffee hangout at Liquid Planet for Natalia. She is leaving us and going to South Korea for two years to teach English to children of diplomats, and run the school newspaper.

Yesterday was fun too. We went to dinner with my parents, aunt and uncle, and cousin. She had her "friend" from New Zealand visiting, and it was nice to meet him and hear his accent. They met playing online games. K, if you are reading this, I want to tell you that I've seen long distance relationships, even ones that started on the internet, turn out well. My good friend who now lives in Hawaii met his wife on the net, and A seems like a really nice guy.

So what does a Kiwi think of the U.S.? Honestly? Well, it's loud, dirty, and there are a lot of neon signs. If I came from a town full of old English stone architecture with willow trees in New Zealand, I might think the same, but the nice thing about Montana is that it's easy to get away from it all, and most people love home.
Since Scott is in Poland right now, he sent me to the corporate fireworks thing in Bozeman where they teach you how to set up a fireworks stand and sell fireworks. As a bonus, my sister lives in Bozeman so I got to hang out with her for a day. She came with me to the incredibly over-long seminar on fireworks, and the great product demonstration ending the event. So from five to eight we learned to face the shelves, be nice to customers, suggest things to buy, and the "no dud" guarantee. She taught me some chemistry and I taught her some Russian. Indeed, we are a family of nerds.

It's been so long since I have had quality time with her, it was almost like getting to know her again. I never knew she was into video games, but what coud you expect from the influence of two older brothers. We played Halo 2 on XBox Live until late at night.

I have been thinking about relationships recently. With the inclusion of Goodbye by Plankeye on the farewell to tot CD, I have been listening to the lyrics again. Here they are:
It's difficult to say goodbye after only one life
The rain will fall down replenishing all of our broken dreams
And this burning tree that's withering will bloom again
Would you believe?

Goodbye, goodbye
Walk away it's time to say goodbye
Goodbye, goodbye
Walk away it's hard to say goodbye

Now all that's left
Pictures on the walls
Memories and stories that are told
The more often told the bigger they get
Create a legacy lest we forget

Goodbye, goodbye
Walk away it's time to say goodbye

No longer can I hold onto this defeated change in heart
I swear
It's time to sing "fare thee well" to life as we know it

My voice it will be,
You know I will be,
Yes it will be still

Something woke me up in the midst of dream and fantasy
Halfway there but He always fills my cup
And He lifts me up oh how He lifts me up

Goodbye, goodbye
Walk away it's time to say goodbye

I never took the time
To stop and realize
That death takes many forms
Even while alive

Those are all really good, but the one that hits me is the very last, "I never took the time to stop and realize, that death takes many forms even while alive." I wonder what it would be like to live the rest of life without regrets. I know that kind of sounds cliche, but when I really think about it, it looks like quite a Godly life, for what greater contentment could I have than fulfilling the task God has set before me. I know it's in his plan for my life to love those closest to me as well as the world. What hurts is when you know you have not loved with the fullness He has given you, and it's too late. It still hurts when you say goodbye, but parting really looses it sting if you know you have loved with all your heart.

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 1 Corinthians 15:55
Man, I was getting hungry. Thanks for winning the Office Break from Craig and Al, Janice!

You know, radio trivia hasn't been the same since google.

Here was the question, "What actress published her autobiography at age 14 titled Little Girl Lost?"
I can't believe this is the third post I've done about Star Wars. You'd think that I was a big fan or something. Really, I don't mind Star Wars, but I don't go crazy over it. I actually like Star Trek more, and just to mess with hard-core Star Wars fans I used to purposely mix up the two. They hate things like "Jean Luke Skywalker."

All this aside though, I did enjoy the show last night, despite having to fight dozing off. I was just tired.

Before the show, once we were let into the theater, someone who I suppose was a type of theater manager came in and told us something like,
  "Can I have your attention? Congratulations you all are the first 175 in line. You should give yourselves a hand."

Clap. Clap. Clap.

"I am proud of you guys for the way you have handled yourselves in line. You were all very professional, and you should be proud too."

Clap. Clap. Clap.

"Now, enjoy the movie."
Maybe he had a bit to much of manager school or something, but it just seemed odd.

For me one of the best parts was the incredible trailer for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which is coming out December 9th. It gave me goosebumps, but I love C.S. Lewis' writing.

I came in a bit late this morning, but I justify it to myself by thinking, "It's better to have a good day of awake productive work, rather than coming in as a zombie two hours earlier." Still, I'll probably end up putting in some overtime this week. I'm still a bit tired, but I can always take a nap in the break room, or that secret tower which I'll tell you about later.

Oh yeah, if you click that photo it will take you to flickr where you can see more photos of the evening. I'm doing that for these blog photos now that I'm using flickr.
Don't miss out on ed's great new discovery.
Yestday I went to Bernice's at 6:00 a.m. to bid the Slovakia team (Scott and Jess) farewell. I was pleasantly surprised to see Katie there. Since we had her going away surprise party on Sunday evening at Jaker's, I thought she would be gone already.

So this is officially the last photo I have of Katie in Missoula. Isn't it a good one? I like it. Thanks for the blessing of your friendship while you were here. God bless.

Don't forget to pray for the Slovakia team, and follow their updates.
So I stopped by the theater again this morning, because J.J. is waiting to get tickets, even as I post this. I brought him some coffee, and hung out for a little bit. Unfortunately, he is already buying the limit of six tickets, and couldn't get me any. However, I ran into Bryce, "the Star Wars fanatic," and he told me that he is only getting two. So I gave him fifteen bucks, and some croissants, and he is going to pick up a couple tickets for Shannon and I. Thanks Bryce!
Last night I stopped by the Carmike 10 because it was on my way home from Lowe's, and wandered around the Star Wars fans who were camping out for tickets. It comes out tomorrow, but they are having a midnight showing, for which tickets go on sale at 11:00 a.m. today.

It was quite the party last night there, however. Not the line of chairs around the movie theater you might expect. People had brought tents, video projectors, DVD players, light sabres, generators, video game consoles, etc. Some had BBQs going, and others had campfires.

I was fotunate enough to talk to a true Star Wars "fanatic" as he calls himself, and in the journalist tradition of asking some good questions and some stupid questions, I was able to capure an exclusive interview. Enjoy.

this is an audio post - click to play
Okay, so here is a new game that I just invented last night, but I bet there is someone else in the world who has already invented one like it.

This is a photo of somewhere in Missoula. To play you have to find this same spot and take a picture. Then you can either post it to your blog, or email it to me at lance dot fisher at gmail dot com, and I will post it on mine. The first one up wins.

Now don't say where it is, even if you get a picture up, becuase people can still play after there is a winner.
051005_192915.jpgHere it is! My new pride and joy. (to be updated when I'm back at my desk) That's right. I'm mobblogging!

Okay I'm back at the office now. I was just bored waiting in the line at Taco del Sol. Man, that thing can get long, but you can't beat a $2 fish taco in a burrito shell for a value lunch.

This thing is my latest addition to my rock collecting tools. I used to use the 'ol '89 Chevy S-10 with a wooden ramp I built, a come-along, some chains hooked to the frame and pipes for reinforcement to load really big rocks into the bed and take them home for use in the yard. I decided that I didn't really want to destroy my new-to-me truck like I did with the S-10, so this "convertable" horse trailer was the key. He said a tree fell on it, so he cut off the top.

Maybe I shouldn't count my eggs before they hatch... or count my horse trailer before I have it... but I did make a verbal agreement with the owner over the telephone. He wanted $300 for it, so I asked him if he would take $250. He said, "well, I have another guy looking at it, and if he doesn't call me back by Friday, then you can have it for $250." I said, "okay, sounds good," but after I hung up I was worried that I might not get it, and so I thought about calling him back the next day. I didn't have to worry about it though, because after about five minutes, he called back and said, "okay, you can have it for $250." I think he was worried that he might end up not selling it to anyone, or maybe his wife was worried.

I showed it to Shannon last night, and she wasn't too impressed, but you know he did load up two steers into it that weighed about 1,400 pounds each. So for the money it can hold a lot more than those cheaply built things at Lowe's, Home Depot, or Costco.

I can't wait to start gather some 400 pound boulders for the yard!
I just finished a first version of this. It will work for audio blogs and more.

Oh! The title isn't there in I.E. Oh well, I'll get that fixed later. Good night.
050905_140937.jpg On second thought -- don't, that sounds stupid, but I can now officially "moblog" or mobile blog, because I got that whole direct from camera to blog thing working, thanks to www.flickr.com!

Now what to do with it...

Well, in the course of poking around for new things at blogger.com, I found the audioblogger. Kind of interesting. I think this would work well for someone going on a trip to Slovakia or something, to send updates to the world from a telephone. You just dial a number, punch in your code, and say your post. Then it shows up on your blog. Neat, eh?

this is an audio post - click to play

What I really wanted to get working was the posting photos directly from my phone to my blog. This would be an easy way for people who only use public computers to post photos too, but blogger thought that my pix message was spam for a number (6.7) of reasons. See:

Content analysis details: (6.7 points, 5.0 required)

pts rule name description
---- ---------------------- --------------------------------------------------
0.2 NO_REAL_NAME From: does not include a real name
0.5 FROM_ENDS_IN_NUMS From: ends in numbers
1.5 FROM_STARTS_WITH_NUMS From: starts with nums
0.2 EXTRA_MPART_TYPE Header has extraneous Content-type:...type= entry
1.5 RCVD_NUMERIC_HELO Received: contains an IP address used for HELO
1.2 PRIORITY_NO_NAME Message has priority, but no X-Mailer/User-Agent
1.6 MISSING_SUBJECT Missing Subject: header

Well, I sent them an email about it. I wonder if they'll get it working for us Verizon users.

One of the best ways to start a Saturday morning here in Missoula is by going to the Farmer's Market, and today was the first one of the year. It is sad though, because it may be Katie's last one for a while, unless she goes to it next weekend. Unfortunately for all of us here in Missoula she is moving to Portland, OR.

The Farmer's Market was great today, and here's why (in chronological order):
  • I got to see Rocky, Peter, Jess, Katie, Zach, and Megan.
  • I bought some spinach, radishes, onions, and tulips for Shannon.
  • I got to talk some Russian with the man selling onions.
  • I got a cup of the best chai in town from Tipu's booth.
  • I got to see J.J. and Anna.
  • Geoffrey, who sells stuff his brother sends him from India, said that he could me a bag of Darjeeling tea.
  • I got to show some really cool watercolors of Missoula in Gallery Blue to my friends.
  • I got to see Rachael and Natalia.
  • I got to take Rocky and Peter to the Import Market for their first time.

Here is my unintentional pun of the day:
J: I can't wait until the peonies start bluming. Not many people in town have them.
L: My mom has some, and they grow huge. She has to put cages around them so they don't break.
J: So do you think you could get me a bunch of them?
L: I think I could arrange that.
J: Was that on purpose?

Oh, and I'll let you in on a little project that I'm doing. I bought one of these stickers, and I'm going to white out the peace sign on the microwave transmitter. Those of you who have been in Missoula for a while might see the humor in it. I don't think I'll be putting it on the truck though. I'm afraid I'd see a peace sign spray-painted on it someday. Why are some peaceniks vandals? I don't know.

Justice among the nations of mankind, and the uplifting of humanity, can be brought about only by those strong and daring men who with wisdom love peace, but who love righteousness more than peace.
-Theodore Roosevelt
Hey so someone (La Falda) asked me the other day, "How do you put those cool links to other sites in the comments?" Well here's how:

You know when you click "post a comment" it says up above "You can use some HTML tags, such as <b>, <i>, <a>?" Well HTML is what most webpages are written in. It stands for Hypertext Markup Language. That's a fancy name for something pretty simple.

Say you wanted to write "That's really neat." in a comment. Notice how "neat" is italicized. Well if you just type "That's really neat," you won't get the italics. You have to type
That's really <i>neat</i>.
That says make the stuff between <i> and </i> italicized. It works the same for making something bold with the <b></b> combo.

So about making that link. You have to use what they1 call the "anchor" tag. I'm not sure why they call it that. Maybe they use the metaphor that your website is some ship floating off in cyberspace, and links are like the anchors keeping it from drifting off into nowhere. Anyway to make a link yow will need to use the less intuitive <a></a> combo.

Suppose you want to say, "You can find La Falda's blog here." Notice that "here" is a hyperlink to her blog. To do this you type the code:
<a href="http://bottleofwhoop.blogspot.com">here</a>
That says make the word "here" a hyperlink, and make it go to the url http://bottleofwhoop.blogspot.com when people click on it.

So where do you get that nifty URL or Uniform Resource Locator as they say (the thing that starts with "http://")? Just look up in the address bar, that's it. I usually don't try typing it, because if you get a letter wrong it won't work. I will copy and paste it. To do that, just hightlight it, press ctrl+c to copy, then press ctrl+v to paste it.

That's it! So go ahead and try putting some links in the comments.

1 The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Here is the definition of the HTML Anchor element.

I usually go to La Peak to see Rocky, and occasionally I'll run into a Megan, Jessica, or Kaylee, but you never know who you'll see there.
Hi, I know that not all of you are as much of a computer nerd as me, so I have decided to publish, "Lance's Best of the Web." A completely un-exhaustive summary of the cool things you can find over hypertext transfer protocol. I'll try and keep it brief. That's what people say before a long speech.

Best All-Around Utility
Could it be anything else? I know it is kind of a no-brainer, but that's also what's amazing about it. Try and think of what the internet would be like without a good search engine. I remember back in the day before we had Google, or even the internet for that matter. Do you remember what a card catalog is?

There are probably things about Google that you don't know too. Try putting in someone's telephone number (not cell phone), or street address with ciy and state, or name and city.

Best Email
Another winner from the Google people. They give you over 2GB of storage, and this is always growing. Also you can search all of your old emails with the power of Google. I wonder if someday people will say, "try and think of what email would be like without a good search engine." But the best part is there are no flashy banner ads.

Best Book Store
I love Amazon, maybe because I love books. Did you know you can search for text within copyrighted books on Amazon? The wishlist is another great tool for keeping track of the books I would like to read.

Best Map Service
Yet another good thing from Google. I promise they aren't paying me, they just make really good stuff. Very smooth interface. You can get directions, and plot all the coffee shops around town.

Best Bible Site
This is where I go to look up verses, in English or Russian. There are many other languages and versions available too.

Best Nerdy News Site
News for nerds they call it. It is a bunch of links to stories. The way it works is pretty cool too, but I won't get into all that nerdiness.

Best Deal Finder
They post good deals on stuff from around the web.

Best Translation Service
So Google didn't come up first in this with their "Language Tools." Maybe if they had Russian I'd use it more.

Best Place to Find and Buy Obscure Stuff
My friends had a fun game back in Alabama, where they would try to find something locally that they couldn't buy on ebay. After a while one friend found something, but it was pretty obsure.

Best Funny Site
Be sure to read the Strong Bad email.

Best Place to Find Facts on Countries
El Salvador produces no oil. I read it here.

Best Dictionary
I still like it better than Google's, and they say every word for you.

Best "Wow that's neat site!"
If you are ever wondering how something works like say, cell phones, CDs, or an internal combustion engine. This is a really cool site

Best Idea for a Free Encyclopedia
This is a neat idea, anyone can make changes to the pages. Doesn't sound like it would work, but it does.

Best Thing Your Friends Probably Don't Know About
You can see what a particular website used to look like.

Best Handy Weather Tool
I haven't researched all the weahter tools, but this is the one I use.

Best Place to Buy Fridge or Dryer Parts
Really cool diagrams of your appliances. You don't even have to make two trips to the repair shop to order then pick up your part. Order online, and they just deliver it to your house.

Best Place to Update Windows
Don't forget to do this often. It's good for your computer.

And now it's time for the special bonus section of great free tools for your PC!

  • Firefox - A really great browser. Better than IE in a lot of ways.

  • Picassa - This is from Google, it allows you to organize, search, and edit your photos.

  • Windows XP Power Toys - A little more on the geekier edge, these can make some things much more efficient.

  • MSN Messenger - You probably already have this, if not you should get the latest version. Chatting is fun.

In response to an invitation to join a one-sided conversation on love and life:

Dearest Distant Friend,

I know you aren’t that far away, but it feels that we’ve grown so far apart. I miss you. I’ve often thought that there are two things I regret about leaving for the Air Force. One was not being there when grandpa died, and the other was not seeing you grow up. I wish so bad that I could go back and be there for you. Sometimes when I came home on leave, I didn’t even recognize you – you had changed so much.

There is so much about me that you don’t know. I think the reason is that you were just a kid when I left, and now that you aren’t I don’t know how to really talk with you, or maybe it’s that I’m just afraid.

I don’t regret everything about leaving. I found my wife, and really found God. It is hard because it feels like while I was off growing closer to God, those I cared about most were falling away. Had I not left, I know that I would not be in a position to help anyone. God has really changed me.

Please don’t think I’m coming down on you for how you are living. Like I told you in the car, I love you no matter what. Nothing will change that. It’s because I care about you so much that I don’t want to see you hurt. I’m not claiming to have all the answers either. God knows all that I’ve messed up while acting out of my own wisdom skewed by desire.

All I’ll claim is that Jesus loves you, and if you surrender to him you can have the most fulfilling life. I wish I knew how to share this with you easier. Sometimes the most important conversations never happen, because they are difficult, and this is where I suppose I lack strength. I don’t want to put if off any more. It is long past the time to start rebuilding what we once had. I hope it’s not too late; I don’t think it is. I can’t use that as an excuse to wait any longer though. I don’t want it to become too late.

I think I’ll wait until school is out, though. I don’t want to add extra burden to finals.