Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Debut as Inspector

It was yet another voting day in Huntsville this past Tuesday. This go-around was for the general municipal election for the city. There was only one office to vote for in my precinct so needless to say there wasn’t much thinking to do. We voted a total of 142 people, which is a great deal more than we voted in the primary run-off back in July but still hardly a drop in the voter pool bucket.

The inspector for my precinct had knee replacement surgery last month and decided not to work this election and so the duties of inspector fell into my capable hands. I’m also happy to report the lady that messed up the clerk’s list last month was on vacation so I didn’t have to deal with the headache of her getting us off count for the day. In other words, I had a good crew and a smooth day.

I stopped by the precinct on Monday afternoon about 4:30 to set up the poll. It took me about 40 minutes to get everything set up the way I wanted it and to take care of everything that could be done the night before. The morning of voting, I made a run by Hardee’s to get everyone a biscuit. Our usual inspector does this each time we vote and so I thought it would be a good idea to do the same thing for everyone. We all arrived around 6:00 a.m. Tuesday morning and signed all the papers and envelopes and took the oath of office and by 6:15 a.m. we were done setting up and ready for our first voter. Of course, the polls didn’t open until 7:00 a.m. so we were ready with lots of time to spare.

The day went off without a hitch. We had a very slow yet steady pace of people come in to vote. Per usual, we ordered Steak-Out for lunch which was delicious as always. Mid-afternoon, I made use of the church’s walking track and walked for about 30 minutes to pass the time and try to get in a little physical activity. One can begin to feel like a sloth sitting around for hours on end.

I brought loads of things to do throughout the day. I knocked out some Bible study lessons and prepared for my Wednesday night three-year old class. I cut coupons and played games on my Kindle and I also wrote a few blog posts, this one included.

About 5:00 p.m. I started getting everything ready for the closing of the polls. Since we had made it out in record time back in July, I wanted to try and get out just as quick this go-around, especially since I would be the one taking all the ballots and results to the courthouse. We closed the polls at 7:00 p.m. and I got the reports printed out, signed and in their proper envelopes and everything loaded into the car by 7:09 and was at the courthouse five minutes later. I made a quick run by Publix downtown to pick up a few items that were on sale before heading home, making it in the front door by 7:35 p.m.

It was a successful day as inspector at the polls if I do say so myself. This was our last voting day until the general election coming up in November which will hopefully be much busier and more entertaining than this particular election.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The ESPN Debut

I realize Friday was a few days ago, but I guess it’s better late than never to write about it. Friday evening, Madison Academy played Leeds in the opening game of the high school football season and this year was extra special because the game was on ESPNU. That’s right, folks, the mighty Mustangs were on national television – no big deal.

My dad had gone up to the school early in the week to get our tickets and paid for parking. The game started at 8:00 p.m. which was an hour later than the normal start time. My dad, aunt, and friend Leah all got to my house around 5:30 p.m. and we headed to the stadium. Yes, you read that correctly, we arrived at a high school football game more than two hours before the game started. The gates didn’t open until 6:30 p.m. so we had to stand in the blazing hot sun for 30 minutes or so before we could get inside and grab a seat.

Leah and I ended up getting in to the game on her husband’s coaches’ pass from last season. So, my brother and his lady friend used the two tickets my dad had gotten for me and Leah. We made it in and got seats pretty close to where we usually sit and then hit up the concession stand for dinner.

Finally, after sweating it out in the heat forever, the game got underway. The first half wasn’t as grand as we MA fans hoped it would be, but they played better in the second half and ended up tying game. Leeds kicked a field goal with four seconds left in the game to win by three. It was thrilling to the end.
Yes, in case you were wondering, I watched the game on the DVR on Saturday. I was curious to hear what the commentators had to say about both teams and also to see what the game looked like on TV.

The game looked really great and was quite impressive on TV. I recognized the commentators’ voices from having called some lesser known college games from seasons past. I heard that they said the MA facilities were actually nicer than some of the college games they have called. The MA family also made a great impression on them and I heard that they said they wouldn’t mind coming back to do another game.

Despite the loss, it was a fun night and great exposure for this little school that many of us hold so dear. We’re looking forward to another fun and exciting football season and maybe even a third state title. Only time will tell. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

And The Winner Is...

Congrats to Meri Brown, winner of the recent giveaway "The Hope Quotient". Thanks for reading, everyone and have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Year Later

Believe it or not, this past Saturday, August 16 was mine and Pippa's one year dogiversary. Y'all, I've got to be honest, I really wasn't sure we would make it this long. When I got The Pip, it had been over a decade since I had dealt with a puppy. So, I think it goes without saying that we had some rather trying moments the past year and sometimes still do. Overall though, The Pip has been a real joy. She has definitely not taken the place of The Tide,  but my heart did make some room for loving another dog which I wasn't sure would be possible. So, a happy dogiversary to The Pip! Here's to hoping we have a few more!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Movie Weekend For Me

This past weekend was officially the last weekend before the start of football season; well, high school football season that is. So, I took the opportunity to have some "me time" and get some things done around the house. 

Friday night, I went with Leah to the home of her mother-in-law for a Premier Jewelry party and I'm pleased to announce that I bought absolutely nothing. There were a few items I would liked to have gotten, but I really didn't want to spend any money so I exhibited some self-control and went away empty handed. However, all was not lost as I saw my friend April for the first time in forever and we were able to enjoy a tremendous amount of laughs which is something we have always been able to do. It was so great to see her. She and I need to do a better job of staying in touch other than the random text every few months. 

Saturday morning, I was up before 5:00 a.m. - what can I say, I was just lying in bed wide awake so I figured I would go ahead and get up. I spent the morning cleaning and doing laundry and watching some TV too. I managed to get myself somewhat presentable and headed out to run some errands around noon. I knocked everything off the list and was home by 2:15 p.m. at which point I realized I forgot to go by Redbox and pick up the two movies I had reserved for the night. I debated whether or not I should leave the house again to pick them up or just forget about it. After much internal debate, I decided to go ahead and go pick up the movies. There wasn't much on TV for the evening and I didn't want to spend the rest of the afternoon and night bored to tears. So, I loaded up The Pip and we went to pick up the movies. 

I got "Divergent" and "The Railway Man". Divergent was okay, but definitely not as good as the book. "The Railway Man" was based on a true story and was a good movie, hard to watch at times, but a nice story of forgiveness. In between movies, I put together a breakfast casserole for my Sunday school class. It was a Cheesy Amish Breakfast Casserole and it turned out pretty good. 

Sunday after church, I returned the two movies from Saturday and rented two more. For Sunday I got "Philomena" and "The Book Thief". I watched "Philomena" that afternoon before evening services. I really, really enjoyed this one. It was also based on a true story (and book) and was just excellent; but then again, every movie with Dame Judy Dench is excellent. 

I watched "The Book Thief" after church that evening. I think I mentioned that my dad watched this on the plane on the way to Hawaii earlier this year and had said it was an excellent movie. I downloaded the book to my Kindle recently, but haven't started reading it yet (yes, I violated my book before movie policy). This movie was very, very good. I cried a couple of times during the movie and just really enjoyed watching it. I'm anxious to read the book and see how it is different from the movie. 

So, I guess you could say it was a movie weekend for me. I was glad to have the down time and time to take in some movies I had wanted to see. An overall great weekend in my book. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: The Hope Quotient

~~ This Giveaway is now closed ~~

Today, I have the privilege of reviewing for you a book by Ray Johnston titled, "The Hope Quotient." I don't know if I've mentioned it on the blog before, but I know I've talked with close friends about how I feel like hope is often cruel. Sometimes, it seems like when we are given hope, it become crushed and we end up with shattered hopes and so when I was given the opportunity to read and review this book, I decided to take it because a more positive spin on hope might not be such a bad thing. 

The book is a little over 200 pages long and an easy read. Mr. Johnston tells personal stories and uses a lot of humor to communicate his points making the book flow very easily. The books begins with an introduction of IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) and then asks a series of questions ending with "Why are some people just personally, emotionally, and relationally in better shape?" Mr. Johnston, after seven years of research and study of people, has come to the conclusion that it has to do with your HQ, or Hope Quotient.

The book is divided into three parts - Part One - The Single Most Important Thing to Do, Part Two - Seven Factors That Raise Your Hope Quotient, and Part Three - Unleashing a Culture of Hope. Every Section of the book brings out brilliant applications for life that can help us to have a better and more positive outlook and change the way we think and approach various circumstances. In part two, the seven factors that are discussed are as follows: 1) Recharge Your Batteries, 2) Raise Your Expectations, 3) Refocus on the Future, 4) Play to Your Strengths, 5) Refuse to Go It Alone, 6) Replace Burnout With Balance, and 7) Play Great Defense. Within each section are more detailed points such as (for point six) divert daily, withdraw weekly and abandon annually - in other words, take some time for yourself. 

In part three, Mr. Johnston discusses unleashing hope in the following places: marriage, kids, career, church, community, and world and discusses how hope can make all these areas of your life much better and work more smoothly than the do today. 

Overall, I feel like "The Hope Quotient" was a very good book with lots of great points and theories that when put to use will probably make an impact for the positive in your life. Obviously, there will still be bumps along the way; this is, after all, life. However, when using the applications learned from "The Hope Quotient" maybe the bumps won't seem as difficult to traverse as they might have been had you not read this book. 

The nice folks at Shelton Interactive have provided me a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. If you are interested in winning a copy of "The Hope Quotient" then just leave a comment in this post. The comments will be open until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, August 21 and the winner will be announced Friday, August 22. Thanks for reading and good luck!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Food Truck Review: Bigfoot's Little Donuts

In case you've been living under a rock, Huntsville has recently had an influx of food trucks - some good, some not so good. I've tried a handful of them and overall have had good experiences. Generally speaking, I find that the food is more expensive than a brick and mortar restaurant and the portions are a lot smaller, meaning if you are super duper hungry, you might still be hungry after you eat. 

There are a lot of trucks I still have not tried, but have wanted to and hope to sometime soon. The problem is that most of the time, the only time I see these food tucks are on days like the food truck rally when the lines are astronomically long.  So, it's better to catch these rolling restaurants throughout the week rather than at large events where there are swarms of people. 

Bigfoot's Little Donuts is one of the newer trucks that I wanted to try and recently I had the opportunity to do so. They set up shop in South Huntsville close to where I work on Wednesdays and Thursdays each week and one recent Wednesday, I crossed the highway to stop in and pick up a dozen of their little gourmet donuts.

Bigfoot's has two types of donuts, the regular are cinnamon and sugar or powdered sugar and the gourmet are the regular donuts with some type of topping. On the day I went the gourmet choices were cinnamon bun, lemon and raspberry creme. I got an assortment of the three. The cinnamon bun was the cinnamon and sugar doughnut with creamy icing drizzled on top, the lemon had a lemon icing drizzled on top and the raspberry creme had some sort of raspberry jam and the creamy icing on top. 

The doughnuts are very small and thin and taste similar to a funnel cake. I knew they were going to be small, but was, for some reason, surprised at how small they were, they were basically bite sized. So, while I had intended to share some with my co-worker Jessica, I actually ate the whole dozen. I'm not even ashamed to admit it because they were good and I like to have a full belly in the mornings to start my day. 

The creamy icing and other toppings had a great taste and really complimented the otherwise plain doughnuts; although I have no doubt that powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar would also be good. The doughnuts are $3 a dozen for the "regular" flavors and $4 a dozen for the gourmet version. If you can't make it to South Parkway on a Wednesday or Thursday, be sure and try to find them at one of the local events in town, it will satisfy your sweet spot and you are supporting one of our many great local businesses!