Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I almost made it to Christmas with a post a day --

Crazy busy - we Norton's are - I left Tulsa yesterday morning, came home ran my vending route, flew all afternoon, slept, flew again today, tried to go to Tulsa to join Amy and Claire only to find out that the Tulsa airport was closed due to a blizzard.

Now I am home, I whipped up a quick Bacon Wrapped Fillet Mignon, and now I shall enjoy some sappy Christmas movies that Amy has recorded.

I'm sad I won't be with my girls tonight -- lets pray I can get out there tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Santa Who?!?!

Claire made her first trip to Bass Pro Shop today for her picture with Santa Claus -- words cannot describe the cuteness factor!
And the best part was the price -- $0.00!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Parking Wars Preface

Coming soon an exciting post entitled Parking Wars -- about the adventures of Steve and Amy's parking adventures. As I prepare for this masterpiece I had an epiphany.

In the Amy's Big Adventure post I was admonishing the Sears Corporation for their clever use of the $12.99 fee for pretty much anything and everything battery related. After seeing the mall parking lot for myself from the air last week (both the First Officer and I simultaneously said 'Whoa' when crossing over the mall near my house) I decided that we may be on to something.

For the privilege to drive in the covered garage, have someone greet you and open your door and help unload your stroller $12.99 is a small price to pay.

When you are done shopping, in Amy's case they even turned her car around so it was facing the right direction, once again they helped load her stuff in the car.

The next time you can't find parking just drive into Sears -- let them know you think something might be wrong with your battery, $12.99 is cheaper than valet at most places, plus there is likely a shorter wait. As an added bonus if they are backed up, and you are expeditious with your shopping you may get back before they have had a chance to 'check your battery.' In this case I can only assume there would be no charge!

Friday, December 18, 2009

And Finally!

The silliest gadget of them all
The Electric Inside the Shell Egg Scrambler -- with a name like that, you know there is a problem!

It looks like a miniature toilet on a pedestal. Aside from that

WHY OH WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER? I'm sure some goof ball invented a recipe that requires the egg to be scrambled prior to cracking -- thus the need for this gizmo. I've heard this is available at Bed Bath and Beyond for a crazy $70. Seriously!

Amy's Big Adventure

I sent Amy to the mall today for a bit of a chore -- I know; since when is the mall a chore for a full time Mom? Well it seems when her car was in the shop last week getting an ongoing brake issue repaired once and for all (lets hope / and pray!) the ever eager to up sell shop supervisor just happened to notice the battery wasn't exactly up to snuff.

I'm not exactly sure why, but when the battery in her car died a couple of years ago I decided to go to Sears of all places to get a replacement. Deep down I guess its because I was under the illusion that they had a pretty comprehensive warranty, and no matter where in the world we are a Sears can usually be found.

All this to say, I thanked the shop for their dutiful checking of the battery but I would be taking it to Sears because it is still under warranty with them.

I of course haven't had time, and we are leaving tomorrow for a big trip to T town so I asked Amy if she could take it so Sears. I left a detailed note explaining exactly what was wrong with the battery, and the original receipt that had the warranty explanation circled.

They tried to charge her $12.99 to 'check' their battery - and when it was found to be defective the charge remained! Isn't that disgusting? I begged her to insist on a manager who ultimately removed the charge -- but seriously - Sears! What are you thinking? What happened to service? Perhaps if the battery was found not to be defective the charge is maybe a little bit okay, but once its found to be bad you don't get to charge me to tell me what I already knew! Arrghh -- in the end they still got $12.99 out of us as I installed the battery the last time, and this time they had to install it.

The next time I think I'll give Sam's Club a whirl -- now they know the meaning of service!

The blog is on auto-post the rest of the week, unless I find some time to come in and interrupt the automated magic! Merry Weekend Before Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stay Smart!

I'm pretty sure that's the motto of the Holiday Inn I'm staying at today "Stay Smart"-- they are so proud of their shower heads. Every time I get a survey about my stay at a Holiday Inn it asks about the shower head. Not in a normal way like:

"Rate the shower"

no no -- more like this

"Please rate our new highly acclaimed state of the art Smart Shower Head by KOHLER® with three modes, and message capability! You'll recall it looked like this!"

The question is loaded to say the least -- after the glowing review they give it I hate to tell them that sometimes it feels like getting in a shower of needles and tacks, as the lime deposits build up in this thing its like stepping into a torture chamber. I can deduce from the straight even beams of water emitting from the photographed example that this shower head probably has less than 1 minute of use EVER. To say the least these shower heads seem to be lacking the preventative maintenance they obviously require -- this morning I turned it on and there was water shooting at the mirror across the room.

If I was guessing this hotel is probably two years old at the most and I was forced to use my least favorite mode -- what I like to call

"The Elephant Peeing" mode -- where I stand under an uncomfortable pummel of water, and have to move around to get wet. If you've stayed at a ICH Hotel Group property recently I'm sure you can relate~

Speaking of elephant peeing a quick story. Aunt Jill took me to the circus for my first time when I was about 9 or 10 years old -- I remember standing behind a line of elephants in awe at their size -- then without warning (if there was a warning I didn't recognize it) one of the large mammals let loose of its bladder. Oh the deluge, and as the urine splashed onto the ground I began to get sprayed with the offensive liquid. As I stood there dumbfounded Aunt Jill called for me and I was able to escape the impromptu shower.

The story gets a little funnier (and longer) when I mention that the next day there was a picture of me from behind posted on the front page of the newspaper. Not only did this clever photographer have a good eye for child models, but he just happened to snap the picture at the exact moment of splashdown.

The headline read "Circus Makes a Splash" Oh if only we would have kept that newspaper LOL.

Now your stupid gadget of the day

Of course its a small hand powered circular saw for guys that will only use appliances that look like tools. This could really offend some women -- the very notion that a saw would be required to cut something that they cooked!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Thought you had me --- no way Jose --- I will not miss a single post until Christmas. Let me tell you that I tried posting with the Iphone, Blogger doesn't do so well with that. So I'm at an old fashioned full size computer cheating on this post with a link to my Daughter's blog.

Here my wife has done a wonderful job of describing Claire's first Christmas celebration!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas!?

Due to a slight scheduling snafu - and the resulting pressing Norton family schedule; today is Christmas!

So Merry Christmas to all -- I would never take time away from Claire on her first Christmas for a silly post so I am of course composing several days in advance and using the nifty 'scheduling' feature on Blogger.

This does not mean that the post a day will end, as promised there will be a post a day until the REAL Christmas, tomorrow perhaps some pics of Claire's first Christmas celebration!

Now an excerpt to continue the stupid gadget series

The conmanest way to make a stupid kitchen gadget is to apply the miracle of electronics to items that do not really need it. Then charge a fortune for the privilege of owning yet another dust gatherer.

The reveo Marivac Food Tumbler

Marinaded meat tastes great. But the traditional technique, using a mixing bowl (free) or a ziploc bag (4 cents), leaves insufficient scope for profit. For only $179.95, you can tumble your meat in the spice mix, and apply a nice bit of vacuum to dry and toughen the meat fibers to the point of in-edibility.

And of course a crowd favorite---
Dough-Nu-Matic Automatic Doughnut Machine

A kitchen essential for folk who demand a mini assembly line of donuts in the privacy of their own home. Simply load it with batter and switch on for a steady stream of mini doughnuts. At $130 each, these are obviously much more sensible than a pan and doughnut mould ($15 - total). Sadly, the model shown does not include the mini conveyor to deliver the finished doughnuts straight to your waiting mouth!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stupid Gadget Series

I can't stand gadgets in the kitchen. Perhaps if I had unlimited counter space, and those nifty wall drawers that hid the unsightly appliances I would have a different view. But for now I don't want, I can't stand it, I think its dumb. With our first example I'm sure you would all agree!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I Was Convinced

I thought to myself, who has time to take a pic when a groom is in certain peril.

This came across my email this week.

"Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever.Great stories. But two things made me take it down.

First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by.

Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn't realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Very Creative Indeed

Most of us don't have time to read lenghty blogs when are home on the weekends. Thats what work days are for, so I'll keep this short. Enjoy this creative production by some High School students in Somewhere, USA.

Friday Funny!

"Keep it simple"
"Work smarter not harder"
"Start with the easiest"

All quotes our Fathers, Grandfathers, bosses, friends and colleagues preach to us throughout our lives as a constant reminder to make the most efficient use of our time. To some degree we all love to 'armchair quarterback' a series of events and point out how much better we could have done it. Of course these opinions are always shared in hindsight -- when anyone could easily figure out the fastest way to the finish line.

I'll give you all a chance to tell me the first thing you would do if the light in your closet stopped working.

Sure any normal person would naturally check the light bulbs for proper operation. That's evidently not how we Nortons do it here in Texas. No sirree. Since this fixture had two light bulbs in it I was sure I would have noticed if one of the bulbs had gone out, so I didn't even entertain the idea that there could possibly be anything wrong with the light bulbs.

This particular closet has a motion activated switch, so when Amy decides to review her wardrobe at a moments notice she doesn't have to be bothered with the time and effort involved in actually turning on a light. When I first noticed that the lights weren't working I tried to turn them on manually. The little indicator lights on the switch wouldn't change despite my repeated pushing of the little button. Ah-ha the switch must have gone bad, as it isn't responding to my repeated inputs/poundings.

Off to Lowes we go, I do love a reason to go to Lowes and this was a perfect opportunity to buzz on over there. I trot on in, find a replacement switch and head back home, thrilled that I was able to get in and out of Lowes so fast and with minimum distraction.

Once we get home I have the tedious task of trying to figure out which circuit breaker goes to the room in question -- I have a tool to help me figure this out, but seriously who has time for that? So I just turned off three breakers at a time until I found the right three (someday I really need to put better labels on the panel, "General Receptacles," seriously what does that mean?)

I make quick work of the switch replacement, after securing the device I decide I should make sure it works before I put the cover back in place. MUCH to my disappointment -- no dice! perplexed I check all the wiring, I double check the connectors, and say a quick prayer. Still nothing.

"That's it, those scoundrels at Lowes have sold me a bad switch!" I think to myself. So I bridge the wires together manually deciding that if the bulbs don't illuminate now then we have a BIG problem. Sure enough -- nothing, not even a flicker. I now move on to the ceiling, I remove the fixture and check the connectors in the ceiling, sure enough solid as a rock! "It's official," I decide, those pesky squirrels from last summer must have chewed through the wires and for some reason its just now coming to light (pun intended). I start to get a little bothered as there is no physical way someone of my size can access this part of the attic to replace this wiring.

Before I go find a miniature electrician I whip out the old multi-meter to get to the exact cause of the problem. I follow the normal troubleshooting tree for a problem this advanced and am astonished to see the electricity is making its way to the light fixture. I quickly conclude the fixture must be bad. Before I excite Amy with the promise of the joyous opportunity to shop for a new fixture; I decide I should, just for the fun of it, check the sockets to ensure, as my hypothesis states, there is no electricity.

What a blow, sure enough 121.5 volts right there at the light socket -- ah yes $40, 1.2 hours, a wasted trip to Lowes, all for two light bulbs. Works brilliantly now, I think in the future I'll just keep it simple!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a Deal!

Lets take a few days off from rant of the day -- I'm sure I'll have something new to complain about soon, but for now lets just talk about our exceptional savings today.

A couple of weeks ago Amy sent me to Kroger to buy baby food that was on sale -- and of course we had a coupon. Being the efficient Groom I am I of course bought one case of each flavor. Fortunately she liked all of the flavors, although we ended up taking the squash back, as it gave her a case of the --ahem-- vapors.

Well last night Amy got coupons in her Facebook mail from Babies R Us -- it was a steal - 12 packs of "Gerber 2-packs" for $10. Note the non-specific language, there are LOTS of things made by Gerber that come in a two pack. We took full advantage of this savings up to 70% on some items. Did I mentions there was no limit!

Talk about exciting times in the Norton house! I love saving money, and am thrilled that my wife came upon this little gem of a deal, thanks Amy -- and Claire and her new high-falootin appetite thank you too!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

WOW! Three In a Row!

Claire is pretty much crawling -- she especially loves (and will do anything to get to) the baby rattle app I downloaded just for her on my iPhone! Claire also started saying DaDa today! Every time she says it I come bouncing into the room. I'm so glad I was here for this! She is growing up so fast!

Now about Los Cucos!

Just in front of the Wal-Mart near the airport is a little Mexican establishment. Amy and I love Mexican food! (Funny story -- I HATED it until I met Amy. Turns out I was just always ordering the wrong things.) So one day when I was on a layover Amy picked me up for dinner, and we decided to give this little joint a whirl.

No doubt due to the royal aura that we emit, we were seated just immediately outside the kitchen. This was, of course, to ensure we received our food at its absolute freshest - that is -- food that hasn't been paraded around Lord knows who on its way to our table. So far, so good!

Amy orders cheese enchiladas, and I order some other crazy dish that did not contain cheese. Shortly after we place our orders we start noticing an occasional whiff of horridness. It almost smelled like a rotting rat. It wasn't a constant smell, just an occasional waft. After some time I began using my pro statistical skills and developed an association with a waiter walking by with a steaming hot tray of food and the putrid aroma.

Then came our food -- the instant our food was delivered we were able to get a nice good deep sampling of the offending scent, and we quickly traced it to Amy's plate. She declared "I think my cheese might be bad." Then, as if I were some sort of rent-a-groom, she pushes her plate towards me and instructs "Here, taste it!" Like any good husband, I cut a bite off and put it in my mouth. And then I spit it out of my mouth.

I call the waiter over (the server didn't wait around to ensure everything was to our satisfaction), and tell him we can't eat that, and we order something else that doesn't contain cheese with the instruction to leave off any potential cheese, we will accept nothing with cheese I remember declaring.

As our dining experience goes on the occasional wafts continue -- at this point we know the culprit and we follow the food with our eyes to see happy diners all over the restaurant just gobbling the rancidness up as if it was the best thing they have ever put in their mouths. I didn't see one person send their food back. Perplexed we finished our meal and as we were having our after dinner discussion of the day I decided to stop a passing manager. I informed him of the events of the evening, fully expecting an "I'll look into this immediately, thank for sharing your concern." Instead I got sass, smarty farty remarks, and grief. This guy was so argumentative about the quality of his cheese, it was almost funny if he wasn't trying to kill everyone in the place.

After I argued with him for probably about a minute, I finally said "I'm done talking to you about this, I'm simply suggesting you check your cheese, I have no other motive --- have a good evening!" I'm guessing the guy thought we were just whining to get a discount, I don't know but if the cheese didn't ruin the place for us his attitude sure did.

After about a minute or less he comes running to our a table a humbled man. "You were right!" he exclaimed. "I don't know how it happened but there is something really wrong with our cheese, I threw it all away -- can I bring you to the kitchen to show you that I threw it away?" I assured him that wasn't necessary, the last thing I wanted to do was get another whiff of the stuff. Even though our meal that night did end up being free of charge -- I was still disappointed in the fact that the wait staff wasn't collecting plates from all the poor diners with no sense of smell -- we won't be back!

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm Not One to Complain But...

Perhaps my BIL Matt and his blog are rubbing off on me, I've decided to continue my horrible truth series on several major corporations lets just have a chat about Popeye's Chicken shall we?

Perhaps you are a fan -- I ate there once with Amy and immediately decided I didn't care for their food as a whole, but Amy LOVED it, so occasionally we went I usually didn't eat or we would drive-thru somewhere else for me to eat.

There were a few minor tufts with our conflicting versions of customer service over time. Then the first MAJOR incident. I had already gone to another establishment to get some food, and now we found ourselves in the drive-thru at a certain Popeye's. Amy wanted DR. Pepper to drink and when I made the request I was told all they had was Coke and Strawberry -- I asked if the person meant 'Strawberry Fanta' -- and was told yes. This seemed strange to me as this was not even an option on their menu, but Amy decided on the strawberry and we 'Pulled up to the window.'

I could then see on the floor boxes of two liter bottles of Kola and K-Strawberry. Yes these are Kmart branded generic soft drinks. I asked the person at the window to once again explain to me exactly what the soft drink options were -- once again this person said 'Coca-Cola, and Fanta Strawberry.' Of course we got the drink, Amy hated it, and I was a little peeved that we paid full price for a product we were duped into buying.

I walked in the restaurant phone in hand having already dialed the Comments number clearly posted on the door -- I asked the manager why they were lying about the products they were selling...seeming confused I asked him to look at his feet at the cases of Kola, explaining to him I was told it was Coke. He was grossly apologetic and refunded the price of our meals, when asked why he was serving this inferior product he replied that his machine had broken and he had to go to the store, he didn't say it but I'm guessing he didn't want to pay the premium price for the real stuff.

We managed a couple of months without a temptation to visit a Popeye's then one day Amy just couldn't resist any longer. We were both hungry so I decided I would eat there too. After waiting nearly five minutes in the empty restaurant for service I ordered a chicken (surprise) sandwich, Amy ordered the chicken strips, we paid for it and stood at the counter waiting for our lunch. I then noticed a young lady (well woman anyhow) come in from the back (presumably from her smoke break, or trash run) in a starter jacket (you know the kind with the bulky sleeves) pull out some bread and 'throw' it on the counter next to the drive-thru cash register.

I quickly realize she is making my sandwich on the money counter -- yuk. She starts grabbing the lettuce and onions and piling it high - mind you she didn't wash her hands and she isn't really in a food prep area. Then the last straw -- she stopped making my sandwich to treat herself to a couple of bites of her chocolate Frosty from Wendy's (even they don't eat their own food evidently).

"That's it we aren't eating here!" These words come out of my mouth before I had a moment to think about a respectful response to the actions I just witnessed. I insist on a manager - then the 'kid' in the kitchen area asks me whats wrong -- as I finish my story he literally busts out laughing as hard as he can -- this guy is doubled he is laughing so hard.

We once again got our money back -- this time we let them keep their food and we went on our way -- neither Amy or I have ever been back, and likely never will.

Tomorrow let the admonishment continue -- Los Cucos -- YOUR NEXT!

Could It Be?

Yes a blog post at last from yours truly! Amy has taken over most posting as it seems lately I've not had nearly the time available for such activities as I have in the past. I even missed the glorious opportunity to humor you all (assuming there are any of you left?) with a rousing rendition of my snowy weather report from Houston.

This year Amy and I declared that we would do our best to surprise one another with Christmas gifts. This has never really happened as usually we are with each other, and like -- oh I want that, I could get it for you for Christmas...okay.. and on it goes. When it comes time to open gifts so often we already know what we are going to open. This is year is suppose to be different, and I hope it is.

The crazy part is that I believe that stores should at all times have all products in the exact same place it was when I saw Amy eye-balling it. It turns out it is not possible to go back to Target a month later and expect them to have the very item she was salivating over. Evidently so many other ladies were salivating and buying at once, either spoiling the surprise, or buying it outside of the gift giving motivation.

We like to buy things for each other randomly -- then when Christmas/Birthdays come around its like 'What ever should I get him/her.' I started keeping a list of things to get Amy early last year, I thought I would be clever and password protect the document, the funny thing is that she knows my normal passwords, so I made up a new one (I have no idea what that might be) and now have no way to access the document!

She claims to have a harder time finding things to buy for me -- and I suppose this is right. I'm that guy that gets it in my head that I need something and runs out immediately to buy it no matter the price. I'm working on this bad habit because not only does it squash a potential gift ideas for Amy but it probably costs me a lot of money in the long run as she is much better at looking for sales and finding coupons.

While on the topic of finding the best price I would like to once again affirm my disdain for Best Buy -- it all started in 2001 when I bought a software program that appeared to be a fraction of the original price. When I tried to install it a warning appeared stating that the software I bought was an upgrade for an older version. I was befuddled as nowhere on the box was the word UPGRADE printed.

I poured over this box in vein trying to locate the key word; finally I decided to pull back the cleverly placed BEST BUY price tag to see the all important indicator had been maliciously hidden from view. I quickly studied the return policy at the said retailer and knew I had a fight on my hands as opened software cannot be returned. I put the price tag in place, waited in the Customer (no) Service line and immediately asked for a manger. I asked him what this box looked to him like it contained. After his expected response I showed him the trickery his staff was up to. He simply pointed to the return policy that opened software cannot be returned and motioned for me to move aside for the next customer.

I love Amazon! repeated returns -- no problem. Slightest issue -- immediate refund. Tinge of brown on the mood ring when dealing with the company -- NEVER... The only MINOR problem with Amazon is tied to my earlier musings about patience, sometimes I just want it right now -- you know what I mean?

How about a post a day between now and Christmas? Some of them may be from my Iphone riddled with errors, but I'll do my best


Monday, November 23, 2009

Anniversary Trip

Steven and I just celebrated our 5th Anniversary!!! Since Steve had a week's vacation off of work, we decided to take a trip. We left on Saturday for NYC for some shopping. While there, we met up with Matt and Randi. We had a great time with them! Then on Monday we flew from NYC to Fresno, CA to spend some time with my Uncle Roy, Aunt Vi and favorite cousin, Lana, and her husband Gary. We also got to have dinner with Gary and Lana's daughter and her family. It was a fabulous trip!

We flew into Newark Airport in New Jersey and took the train into NYC's Penn Station. This was mine and Claire's first AmTrak ride. Our train:

The three of us on board the train. Claire was asleep in her stroller.
From Penn Station we rode the subway to our hotel in Queens. Here's Claire during her first subway ride:
Steve, Matt and I took turns carrying Claire around in her carrier. She loves this thing, and it's easy for us to carry her this way. (Randi is already carrying around my niece or nephew, so she didn't take a turn with Claire. Steve and I are SO excited about getting to be an uncle and aunt again!)
We did a lot of shopping, including a visit to Toys-R-Us in Times Square. This was taken by the lego model of the NYC icons. You can see the huge T-Rex from Jurassic Park in the background.
We also went to Bloomingdale's. This picture was taken in the window of the children's department on the 8th floor.
Matt and Randi just outside of Macy's in Herald Square.
Steve and Claire with the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. They hadn't even put the lights on it yet, but they did have the scaffolding up.
Radio City decked out for Christmas
Matt and Randi on the subway
Then we were off to California.

The girls - Lana, Aunt Vi and me
Uncle Roy and Aunt Vi took us out to eat at Tahoe Joe's - so yummy!
My beautiful family!!!
Uncle Roy, Claire, Aunt Vi, me and Steve
We had a fabulous time with Matt and Randi and with our Californians. It was a great trip!
Happy Anniversary, Babe! The past five years have been the happiest and most wonderful! I love you more than anything!
For more pictures of Claire, check out her blog:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oh Claire--

Yesterday, while at Target, I was holding Claire as she had experienced enough car seat time for one day. Most of the time when I hold her she wants to face forward, I was dutifully obliging for this outing. As we were strolling down the highly polished aisle I was informed by a friendly Target Team Member that she was spitting up. This nice lady quickly put a 'WARNING SPILL' sign up, and sent us on our way assuring us she would take care of it. The really funny part is that about five minutes later she spit up even more, and the same Team Member just happened to be coming around the corner -- once again 'WARNING SPILL' this time I insisted on cleaning up my Daughters mess (She is SO CUTE!).
My Girls!

Watching the game with her Daddy, note the crossed legs!

Today the Norton Family is making the switch from Cable to Satellite -- The installer is probably not prepared for me, my questions and my requests, so perhaps I'll fix him a coffee when he gets here. It's not my fault that DirectTV doesn't have a 'trial period' or some sort of satisfaction guarantee. The contract clearly states that once the installer leaves there is no turning back -- he may be here a while, while I test the system for my satisfaction. To be safe I've not cancelled the Cable yet.

And finally in the Things That Make Me Laugh file. When someone is really hacking you off politely state "You are causing my mood ring to turn an icky shade of brown!" This could really be used a number of ways, particularly when talking ABOUT someone. And for my favorite talent of the week MOUNTAIN UNICYCLING!


No this is not an altered photo, this is a real sport that is taking some small groups of interesting people by storm! A friend of mine at work was talking about this the other day like it was perfectly normal, citing the wonderful advantage that there was only one set of bearings, and one tire to worry about. At first I thought it must be something that is done in small spurts with lots of breaks -- but no, these people train for countless hours, and participate in real races!

I failed unicycle riding in gym class. I'm certain if I couldn't figure it out in a semester on a flat wood floor, then I certainly shouldn't be riding down trails in the SNOW!

Have a great day!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sometimes You Just Have To Ask!

It was shortly after 9/11 and I was working at Miller Swim School in Tulsa, OK. To much pomp and circumstance a flag pole had been erected at the facility on this particular day - everyone loved it, the kids especially thought it was really neat!

On day one of the flag poles existence I was closing, as I was getting ready to leave for the night, I realized that I had not taken down the flag. I quickly put my things down and untied the rope to allow the flag to lower. Much to my horror I quickly realized the rope ends had not been tied together and as the flag lowered the end of the rope quickly went up in the air over the pully and fell to the ground at my feet.

I was troubled by this chain of events and was unsure of what I would do to fix this multi-level oversight. I thought about a ladder, but quickly ruled that such a decision could easily lead to my demise. I then considered shimmying up the pole, but came to the same conclusion. As I pondered my options I decided that surely there was a fire unit bored out of their mind that would love nothing more than to come out with their ladder truck and 'train' on its use in our parking lot while simultaneously fixing this little blunder.

So I called the county non-emergency number and asked for the phone number of a fire station that had a ladder truck, the operator kindly provided the information and I put out the call. The Fireman that answered basically blew me off stating that the Chief would have to make such a decision and to call back in the morning, I implored him to make an exception as we needed the flag to be up first thing in the morning, and informed him that his help would be most appreciated. He stood firm insisting he could make no such decision.

I thanked him and hung up the phone. About a minute later the phone rang it was the local Fire Captain, he was curious as to where again I was located. I told him and it turns out the owner of the Swim School had been this guys Principal when he was in High School, and his football coach. He told me he would do ANYTHING or Mr. Miller and informed me they would be out in ten minutes. In eight minutes the guys arrived in their ladder truck, and the operation ensued!

It took them a while but eventually the flagpole was repaired, and tied off! I never spoke of this story at risk of sounding like a complete idiot until long after I left the employ of the Swim School. I actually forgot about it until last week, when I was reflecting about times I was thinking outside the box and the outcome was surprising, this definitely falls into that category. And now its just funny!

Amy, Claire and I are off to Tulsa this week for a Birthday extravaganza -- it should be great fun, and we are going to get to see some old friends, including Mr. and Mrs. Miller -- it should be a hoot!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Announcement

So its official -- the show will now be called Kate Plus Eight! -- What a tragedy, the decision some people make that can so easily destroy a family. Amy and I started watching this show late last year on a random basis, and I had this to say in November of 08:

And finally does anyone watch that show on TLC 'Jon and Kate Plus Eight'? -- I must say that I am really disappointed in how those people treat each other (mind you I don't have eight children). Amy and I strive to always be kind, and supporting to each other. We don't make jokes about each other, and when people we might find ourselves around start complaining about their mate, we simply point out the wonderful things that we do for each other. It's amazing how quickly the conversation turns when we do this. Little Miss Jon and Kate do not share our views on this topic. They are very nit-picky and tacky to one another, they are quick to place blame, or cast bad lights on each other. Don't do that to your mate, its not nice, put your mate on a pedestal, admire them, remind them everyday that they are the best thing that ever happened to you. Make them feel important, and thank them for everything they do. And guys when your wife wants you to go shopping (and its not somewhere fun like Ross) just offer to carry her bags, follow behind her, and occasionally call her pretty.

It's really dreadful that these children are having to go through this with the world watching. It turns out the shows ratings have never been higher than they have been since the original split. While it is true that they never appeared to be nice to each other while on camera (I can't imagine what life was like without the cameras), their obligation to each other when they took the vows were real; and it appears that at least one of them chose not to keep them.

This is what is happening in our world, a married couple has issues, it finds its way onto their weekly TV show, the issues get more aggravated, more people tune in, the marriage dissolves, and people love it! There are more news stories, and interviews surrounding these two people right now than there has ever been (kudos to Kate for staying out of most of that drama). When my Grandparents were my age this kind of behavior was unacceptable, moral and ethical obligations meant something to everyone - and most importantly they were based on Scripture! What is happening?

Coming soon a most amusing story about my gumption as it relates to a flag pool snafu!

I Was Like HUH?

As I was getting comfortable in my hotel room on Saturday night I decided to surf through the channels a little. I came across SNL and was delighted to enjoy a little evening humor. Soon after I stopped 'Touching that dial' a skit began that used a whole lot of the word 'freakin.' At some point I was certain I heard a different word with like syllables. Alas, this across my news feed this morning

NEW YORK (AP) -- Nabbing Megan Fox to host the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live" wasn't the only bang for the start of the season. There was also an F-bomb.
Newcomer Jenny Slate let the dreaded word slip during a parody of a talk show by biker women. The sketch was laden with tough talk from its three characters, but the most objectionable word was substituted with an inoffensive stand-in for that vulgarity.
Then, midway through the sketch, Slate slipped and said the word.
The sketch continued with no interruption or further slip-ups.
NBC declined to comment on the incident, other than to say the word had been restored to "freakin'" for the show's replays in western time zones.
The sketch aired live at about 12:40 a.m. Eastern, well after prime time, when use of expletives can be punished by the FCC.

I of course immediately turned off the TV so as not to pollute my mind with such vulgarities. In other news, the Norton Family is having the worlds largest garage sale. That is I retrieve items from my attic, and put them in my garage, I then proceed to list them on Craigslist at fire sale prices, slowly but surely people are driving from all around the area to come take advantage of the bargain.

The last time we moved we essentially did it ourselves with the help of Amy's Parents. I remember being exhausted when we packed the moving van, and thinking we were nearly done -- then alas, someone accidentally mentioned the attic. It was awful -- we were hot and sweaty (at midnight of course in Oklahoma) and now I had to crawl into this God forsaken part of our house and unload it. I distinctly remember proclaiming that NOTHING was going in the attic of our new house!

Fast-forward three years, out attic has so much stuff in it I can hardly walk around. I had to put more decking up there last year just so we could have room for all of it. It was just a fact of life -- Amy allowed my little charade of no attic usage for about a year, but it got really old moving all of this crap we didn't know what to do with from the guest room to the office and back repeatedly. So alas, its been in the attic for two years and its on its way out!

Amy has decided to sell her scooter, you will recall it has brought much humor to the Houston area as I've taken to riding it to work in the last couple of years. It turns out that the baby seat won't attach to it, and the 'cuteness' factor does little good it she can't ride it - so it too has found its way on Craigslist.

My Birthday is tomorrow -- the big 30, Amy, Claire and I are spending the next two days together celebrating, although right now everyone and their dog is asleep (sans me), surely they are resting for the festivities to come!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Taste of Texas

Okay -- so my sisters (Kalei {pink hair} and Nicole) were in town this week, here to visit with us and spend some quality time with their niece Claire. While here they professed an acute desire to do 'Texas Things.' Once this bit of information came my way I put it in high gear planning a doosie of an evening that was capped off with Square Dancing!

Keeping in mind that I am usually the laughing stock of all things dance I thought this would be a hoot, and was so excited about my evening of gliding around the Community Center floor!

Naturally we were a little apprehensive about joining the crowd, worried we might not fit in -- but Paulette (our greeter) gave us an exuberant Texas welcome complete with hug, and advice to my sisters to be careful where they put their name tag (LOL, only older people can get away with such comments)

Here we are signing in!

Now this was a group for first time dancers, the caller (as he is called) was very patient, and an amazing teacher; not one person laughed at me the whole night. Sans my occasional confusion of my right from my left, I made very few errors.

One key concern was little Claire, well fear not -- it just so happens there are lots and lots of mothers lining the walls, and they gladly 'sat this one out' for a chance to care for Claire! Problem solved, fun activity, built in free babysitting!

Here I am Promenading Amy!

Claire loved watching us dance -- the video at the end is of a 'set' that Amy and I danced, if you watch the end there is an adorable shot of Claire watching us from the gallery.

My two sisters and I while Amy was sitting out feeding Claire. Nicole had to wear the fun hat because she was filling the guys role in this dance.

Oh the fun we had -- more pictures coming soon of other fun activities. There was a surprise bonus after our dance lessons -- another true Taste of Texas, a drug bust! Oh yes home boy was face down in the dirt, and his car was being ripped apart by the Texas Rangers, seriously, Don't Mess With Texas!

Now showing a 4 minute video of Amy and I dancing the night away!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Sunday

Perhaps I should digress a little on my Koozi rampage, it turns out an alarming number of people in Texas and surrounding areas think this is a good idea. I'll write the Etiquette book editors, and let them know they need to revise their manuals.

My sisters are in town for the next few days! Sadly I'm busy flying all day today, but then I'm off until Thursday! Hope all is well with everyone -- and its okay to admit if I got you to buy a Flowbee; I should call them and see if I can get a commission for my mad marketing skills!

And by the way I think Michael Moore is an idiot, and doesn't really deserve mention -- BUT, I did see a hilarious clip from one of his upcoming projects where he stands in front of AIG Headquarters announcing though a bull horn that he is there to make a citizens arrest of the entire corporation! LOL

Monday, August 31, 2009

An Ode 2 The Flowbee

Do you remember the Flowbee? Perhaps if you were a tireless child in the 90's that was awake at 6:00AM on Saturday morning watching infomercials you know all about it (and of course the classic ' Scewdriver').

In a nutshell the Flowbee was a set of clippers that hooked up to a vacuum. You attached the necessary number of 1/2 inch extensions to the clipper head, hooked it to the vacuum turned all systems on and (insert earplugs as required) suck away at your hair, magically it will get shorter!

Would you believe the the Flowbee is still available online? I always thought it was the COOLEST thing ever! I was amazed at how simple it would be to cut ones own hair in a clean and refreshing fashion. No itching afterwards, and to a very precise length.

Of course now that I'm an adult I realize it has got to among the most ridiculous contraptions ever. Oh how I wish I could find a picture of the beautiful blond they on the TV spot using like 10 inches of extensions giving herself a 'trim,' absurd I tell ya!

This picture is of the individual responsible for this little engineering marvel, and I suspect the person below him might be his ever supportive Mother, although I'm not certain!

Oh the funniness of it all! The Flowbee indeed, I need to add for those of you thinking of making a discreet purchase of the Flowbee -- it's not possible, as you can see from the picture below the Flowbee comes in a VERY NON-discreet box. Everyone from your mailman to your neighbors will get a good chuckle out of your little parcel!
I've had some interesting haircut experiences. There was the time I went to an 'Ethnic' Barbershop, where I didn't really understand the 'lingo' and ended up with a 'Low' as they called it. Lets not forget the more recent experience where I was blown off with an industrial air compressor at the conclusion of my trim.
Or my all time favorite, when my local trim shop was destroyed by the hurricane I had to go to a new place. One thing led to another and I was eventually asked (mind you) what I had been paying for haircuts. When I responded with my proud "Five dollars" the lady FLIPPED OUT. She exclaimed "Five dollars! if you think I'm gonna charge five dollars you need to go back to 1978" LOL. Fun times, even funnier I actually went back to her once!
Amy and Claire are having a splendid time in Tulsa, I'm working, and Maggie is worried she is going to have to stay in Tulsa when we all come home with weekend, that's not the case she is moving back to Texas as it turns out a possessive, ankle biting dog is a touch of a hindrance when trying to show a house that is for sale.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Perhaps you will recall my recent post entitled 'A Jungle I Tell Ya'. I find myself back at this same hotel tonight, and you will be happy to know that most likely as a result of my public assault the city has mowed the 'Field of Dreams' and cut down some of the jungle. There actually is a barely navigable trail that leads to the moat that still requires a run and a jump but none-the-less I'm pleased to have a more direct route to my cure for my famished state.

Now on to the classic bit of litter I found along my trek today. I didn't happen to have a camera handy (well I think there is one on my phone, but considering I'm still impressed in has a color screen I'm sure I would never get the picture off of it). What I saw was a Koozie! On this Koozie was written "THIS WAS STOLEN FROM Lars & Rhonda's WEDDING..." It also included the date, but seriously it doesn't matter what day it is -- DON'T GIVE OUT KOOZIE'S FOR WEDDING FAVORS!

I thought this might be a fluke, perhaps these are the only people who would do such a absurd thing -- but no, please humor me -- Google 'Koozie' -- I'll do it for you, here are the results!

Did you notice that the VERY FIRST link is for wedding favor koozies?

So it turns out Lars and Rhonda aren't the only ones who mistakenly think that kozzie favors are a good idea. I'm afraid if I attended a wedding where there were koozies for favors I might have to excuse myself to have a good laugh before I can play Mr. Serious, congrats on your marriage!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Claire's Big Adventure

The girls and I had a wonderful frolic these past two weeks taking in the sights of western North America. Claire got to meet all kinds of fun relatives and other strangers. It's pretty amazing how she can draw an audience with the smallest little fit that she might occasionally throw in public places. But we love it!

As mentioned on Claire's blog she has taken to rotating herself; she can go from front to back and back to front at will these days. Sometimes it takes a touch of anger to get the roll going, but more often she will just roll over for no apparent reason. This is great but requires a tad more supervision than we Nortons were accustomed to. Claire also likes to make a fun new noise from the back of her throat that is difficult to explain but easy to imitate. She loves it when we make it back to her.

Our trip started out visiting my Mother, her parents and my sisters. This was great fun and lasted for two days.
After this little adventure we took Claire to meet my father and my other two sisters.
She loved meeting all of her aunts and finds them very entertaining!

After all of this excitment we went to the beach for the annual Rice Family Renunion. (Rice is my paternal grandmother's maiden name.) We have missed the last two of these reunions due to scheduling conflicts, so it was fun to get to see everyone for the first time in a few years. Then it was off to Camano Island, WA to visit some of Claire's great aunts, great uncles and second cousins!
Whew! This was a lot for Claire to take in, so the next morning we decided to take a break pool-side for some R&R. To make it more fun, we invited seven cousins, an aunt and an uncle to join us. It made for an exciting and fun-filled morning before we departed for Canada!

Next on the agenda was Whistler Mountain Resort. This is the site of a number of events for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and I really wanted to go check it out as I haven't been in nine years and never during the summer. It was really neat to enjoy the scenery from the comfort of shorts and flip-flops. We tried to go on a tour of the top of the moutain, but Claire protested. So instead we just did our own little tour and really had a wonderful time!

The newest Gondola system at Whistler is pretty amazing. It goes from the top of Whister Mountain to the top of Blackcomb Mountain. Each car can hold 28 people, and the views are spectacular!

For our Hell's Kitchen fans, we did make an impromptu stop at Araxi. While the prices at Araxi were not as out of control as I expected, I got the distinct feeling we weren't welcome with a three-month-old.
Instead we opted for fondu at Bavaria. This was probably the only time we will ever eat at a fondu restaraunt, as it did not exactly knock our socks off (note the 'Bavarian Fries' served as our side!), but we had a great time!
One more stop to see Grandma & Granapa Wines and then off to Portland. We spent our last night there with Uncle Clay and Aunt Lori. We had a wonderful time with them, and we weren't quite ready to leave. But alas it was time, and we journeyed home on Friday.

More pics, and perhaps a video coming soon!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Answer

Thank you to my one faithful reader for your quick and possibly correct answer to the little puzzle I presented.

I challenge you to watch the video again, this time don't try to count anything -- perhaps you will notice a large gorilla in the room!

Isn't that just like life, we so often get focused on the task at hand, meanwhile we miss everything else happening around us. I challenge everyone to take time this week to look at the big picture; don't get caught up in the details.

This will be easy for Amy, Claire and me this week as we are embarking on the Norton family summer vacation. Fun destinations in store, and we will try to share pictures along the way!

Have a great two weeks, and we will chat latter!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fun Test

Oh do try it --

Try to count the number of bounce passes among the white team. Leave your answer in the comments -- you may only watch the video once. No cheating!

Click on THIS link

The surprising answer coming soon!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fabulous Birthday

I (Amy) had a FABULOUS birthday this year. It started with a celebration with my brother and his wife when they visited us over the Fourth of July weekend. Then my husband and daughter took me to Outback for dinner on my birthday to celebrate; and I celebrated with the rest of my family last week while in Tulsa. Here are the pics of my wonderful gifts:

From Matt and Randi - a beautiful picture frame that says "Together we have it all" - it's going to look perfect in my bedroom. Thanks, Matt and Randi. I love it! (Now I just need to get my act together and get my pictures printed.)
My parents gave me the cart cover / high chair cover that matches all of Claire's things - black and white toile. It's just what I wanted! Thanks Mom and Dad!
My friend, Valerie, gave me this beautiful piece of "I love New York" artwork that I have proudly hung in my living room. It's a perfect addition. Thanks, Val! I love it!And my wonderful, thoughtful husband gave me the perfect gift - a pocket-sized video camera! It's pink, of course! He also gave me an SD card that holds 4 hours of HD movies! I have been taking lots of videos of our daughter and her great accomplishments. We have now ordered more memory for our computer so that we can upload them, edit them and post them for your viewing pleasure. Look for those soon.My parents, grandparents, aunt, brother, sister-in-law and niece gave me money so that I can go shopping for some new clothes. Nothing in my closet seems to fit right since I have lost so much weight. A very good problem to have, I might add! Thanks, Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Nanny, Fran, Adam, Shannon and Analise.
And Steve's Aunt Lori gave me a gift card to Cold Stone Creamery - one of my very favorite places! Birthday Cake Remix, here I come! Thanks, Aunt Lori!
I had a wonderful birthday! Thank you to everyone who helped me celebrate! Let's do it again next year!