New Year, New Design

It has been probably… eight years since I did a site redesign. We’re going with this one for the time being. Here’s what I changed and why:

The Title–The old site was named “the prodigal” with all lower case letters. When I first started this, I wanted to emphasize the casual nature of it, the come-and-go feel. Lower case just seemed to speak to that. The name itself is from the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 11 – 32) and was chosen because it speaks to the transitory nature of humanity and how we as a species can change, grow, and digress.

I still love the title, but I wanted the capital letters in the name now. It just feels time to formalize a bit. As the blog has matured, so has the content from the whimsy of “what do I do” to directed and consistent topics.

Color–Yeah, it’s yellow. Get over it. 🙂 I’m a yellow kind of guy. I’m also colorblind, so if it’s not really yellow, will someone please tell me now?

I chose that particular shade to not be overly obnoxious–vibrant yellow can be hard on the eyes–but still yellow. It is yellow, right?

Fonts–If I had anything I’m not quite sure about, it’s the fonts. I love the body font (can’t think of what it’s called right now…). Gentle, whispy serifs, a strong vertical stance, and shallower but not shallow ascenders and descenders. It’s also broad of body, which I like. It’s a good font.

I’m less fond of the header. I like the left-to-right slant to the letters; it feels gently aggressive. I also like the whispy nature of the stroke. I made it italic, which I’m not sure I like. I might take that off. I really don’t like it in the subheaders, which I don’t often use. It feels… ew. I love this font for the title at the very top of the page which is probably why I chose it. I’ll sit on this for a day or two.

Image–I used to have a picture of the Inside Passage from the beach at Point Lena in Juneau. That was a favorite spot of mine looking out over beautiful Southeast Alaska. It’s been over 12 years since we’ve been back, and it just seemed appropriate to put something more recent as the picture.

The picture I chose is of my bees cleaning the wax from my most recent harvest. It was a sunny September afternoon, and I went and sat not 18 inches from the swarms going after that wax and let the thousands of bees swirl around me, crawl through my hair, down my face and arms, and all over. The sound was incredible, the smell intoxicating, and the feeling of peace and oneness with these miraculous creatures near overwhelming. Basically, imagine that picture, multiply the bees by about a thousand, and then put them swarming all over you. Yeah… I’m weird. You knew that already. 🙂

Widgets–The last thing I did was dropped a couple widgets on the right side. I honestly don’t even remember what they were, so I guess that’s why I dropped them.

Let me know what you think of the new design! If you hate it, let me know that, too! And for the love, if it’s not yellow, will someone please tell me!!

Posted in Administration | 3 Comments

Of Farkles, Practice Thanksgivings, Shimmies, and Gravy

Kind of a private post to two specific and very beloved people…

Farkle–How long did we go without even getting on the board? A year? We still can’t play without laughing about the futility of it all. And to think that we kept trying even after abject failure! At least we can claim that we are persistent, right?

Practice Thanksgivings–Probably my single most favorite friend-based tradition and one we still do every single year. Every time we talk about it, the people who hear it for the first time think it’s utterly brilliant. And it is. One of these days we’ll get you back here in time to do it again. Heck, next time you guys are here, it’s Practice Thanksgiving even if it’s the middle of May!

Shimmies–I deny everything. There’s no evidence that I’ll ever admit to. You can prove nothing. If you bring it up, you’ll be hearing from my lawyer.

Gravy–There’s no point even trying to deny this one. It’s true. It happened. We tell probably every last person who walks through the front door about it, and they all look at me with eyebrows raised and say, “Two cups of corn starch?!?” Then they look at the food we’ve prepared and wonder if it’s edible. Hopefully I’ve more about cooking since that particular disaster.

Sigh… It passed far too quickly, and it was worth every second.

Merry Christmas to you, Joe and Lora!

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Protected: Family Album–2015

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Protected: A 24-hour Diary

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Posted in The Office

Why haven’t you shopped on Jet yet?

I just finished a healthy chunk of our Christmas shopping, and for kicks and giggles, I decided to build the exact same cart with both and Amazon.

The big question now is why on earth haven’t you shopped Jet yet?

A couple notes:

  • The thing that surprised me the most was that I was able to get all of the items at both locations. When Jet first launched, it was hard to find certain things. It looks like those problems are quickly becoming past issues. Jet currently has over 9 million individual SKUs available, and while that is still a far cry from Amazon’s vast collection, it’s getting to the point that it works for most everything, especially the stuff most people buy. Plus, the number of SKUs is climbing rapidly.
  • My shopping choices ranged from toys to clothes to electronics to media to food stuffs.
  • I purchased 15 items ranging in price (on Jet from $1 to just over $40). The cheapest item on Amazon was $6.40 and the most expensive $87. I also ended up having to pay $20 shipping on one Amazon item, but I did not include that fee in my comparison below. Shipping was free with Jet.
  • Because these are gifts for the family, I am NOT going to post my purchases here for all to see.

So when all was said and done, I walked away from Jet having spent a grand total of $357.08. My Amazon total? $503.86.

That’s a difference of $146.78.

Put another way, Amazon was 41.11% MORE expensive than Jet!

So if you’re not already, why exactly aren’t you shopping on Jet? Do you like spending more money on Amazon?

And just for those that tell me that Prime gives them so much more, let’s add that $99 Prime fee in there. So Prime costs $99 a year, and for this specific order I would have spent roughly $150 more than on Jet. So for the $250 I just saved on this single order and not having a Prime membership, it’s worth it to have 2-day shipping and access to some media….

To each their own, I guess.

Posted in On the Home Front, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary since moving in. It’s surprising that it’s been a year already, but what a good last year! As I think back over the last year, there really isn’t that much that I would do differently, and that’s a nice feeling. It seems like there is always a thing or two that I’d like to change, but I can’t say that this year.

We’ve got pretty much my whole family heading this way for Thanksgiving, and we’re enjoying the calm before the storm. It promises to be busy, loud, and crowded. And it works.

We’ve got the snowmen up for Christmas, the tree is up with lights (no decorations just yet), and a good chunk of the painting is finally done on the main level. It’s all coming together finally.

Oh, and lest I forget, we did another Practice Thanksgiving this past week. Truly delicious. We made the turkey like we normally do, and had potatoes, veggies, pies (four), stuffing, cranberries, green bean casserole, and rolls. It was good to get together with friends and just have a good time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in On the Home Front, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Winter Bees and Fall Gardens

We had a meeting at the church this morning, and after the meeting, a friend invited me over to his house to get a squash. Boyd also keeps bees, and I asked if I could see his hives because, well… bees!

When we got up to his hives, we noticed a fairly decent amount of activity, which is uncommon on a cold morning (about 39 degrees). On closer inspection, we noticed that it was wasps and not bees, and that there was a healthy stream of the little beasts flying in and out! Boyd quickly cracked open his hive and confirmed that he had a colony in the top of the hives, but that wasps were scattered throughout the hive raiding. We quickly sealed up the hive completely except for a single tiny entrance at the very top. Within moments, a sizable number of wasps had built up in front of the hive trying to get in. I’m hoping we got the entrance closed up in time, but I admit to not feeling very confident in that. I think the damage is done, and we probably trapped another 50 wasps inside who will just continue to do damage until they are gone.


Boyd filled a bucket full of carrots and onions for me, and I went home.

When I got home, I checked my own hives. I have seen some wasp activity around the hives, and yesterday I couldn’t hear the bees when I knocked on the hives. That’s always been a fairly unreliable way to check for me, so I wasn’t too worried. After Boyd’s disaster, though, I moved my entrance reducers to the smallest opening possible and cracked the lid. The top of Inside Hive was full of very active bees. The top of Outside Hive had bees but they were less active. I think Inside Hive was more active because I was a touch more aggressive in trying to get a noise through knocking. Both hives weren’t necessarily light but also weren’t that heavy oomph that I would have hoped for.

I still need to get into Inside Hive and pull the medication strips (I’m still bugged I had to do that), and I will do a good honey check when I do that. If they are light, I will sugar feed (even though I hate that as much as I hate medicating). It’s better to sugar feed and live than not and starve.

With the bees done, I went inside to clean up the carrots and onions Boyd had given me. Boyd suspected that most of the onions were bad, which turned out true. We were able to salvage just one, but the carrots were almost entirely good. There was only three or four that had been nibbled on by rodents or rotted in the cold. The rest were pristine, crunchy, and perfect.

As I cleaned them, I had the strong thoughts that we have got to do better of being self-sufficient. Boyd talked about how he’s able to keep most of his veggies fresh and edible clear into mid-winter with very little effort. That includes the squash and especially his root vegetables like carrots and onions. Looking across his garden, which wasn’t that big, I’d guess he had a good 200 lbs of cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, and various other kinds of produce that he simply hadn’t gotten around to harvesting. I’d guess total garden space at less than 30 X 30 feet. It was a spectacular haul of produce and very inspiring for me.

This year we didn’t plant a garden of any kind. We kept hoping to have the garden ready for spring and it just didn’t happen. Courtney has committed to spending time this fall at clearing that garden space so we can use it. It’s a big space, and if we plant it right and maintain it, we could probably get quite a harvest out of it. Of course, I would love to double and even triple the size of it. It just has the feel of “right” to it all.

I don’t know what the future holds for us, but the more I learn about health, eating right, and the world in general, the more I’m convinced that local, sustainable food is by and large among the best of paths for many of us. I hope this next spring to join the ranks in full!

Posted in Bees, On the Home Front | 2 Comments