My parents have been married for 60 years today and all I got them was this lousy blog entry!

60 years and counting!

60 years and counting!

The parental units have been married 60 years today!  They met in high school.  Dad was the quintessential bad boy, and Mom was the beautiful farmer’s daughter… Well, not exactly a farm.  They had a few animals you could count as livestock.  Dad won Mom’s heart by constantly visiting the ice cream parlor where she worked in an attempt to impress her with his tolerance of lactose.  He’s always been very understanding of the lactose culture.  Anyway, I took the liberty to examine the world then and now to see how much has changed!

US Population:

Sept. 30, 1949 – 151,684,000

Sept. 30, 2009 – 305,000,000

Average Cost of New House:

Sept. 30, 1949 – $7,450.00

Sept. 30, 2009 – $238,880.00

Average Wages Per Year:

Sept. 30, 1949 – $2,950.00

Sept. 30, 2009 – $40,523.00

Average Cost of a New Car:

Sept. 30, 1949 – $1,420.00

Sept. 30, 2009 – $27,958.00

Cost of a Gallon of Gasoline:

Sept. 30, 1949 – $.17

Sept. 30, 2009 – $2.05

Cost of a Loaf of Bread:

Sept. 30, 1949 – $.14

Sept. 30, 2009 – $1.77

Keep in mind; my parents aren’t really to blame for any of the price increases.  However, they have contributed to the increase in the population.

Happy Anniversary, Bob & V.J.!   The Charleston branch of the Ridley family loves and misses you!

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Football So Far

Could the Super Bowl be a family affair this year?

Could the Super Bowl be a family affair this year?

I’ve been watching football attentively for almost 30 years now.  You would think I would have learned a thing or two along the way, but apparently, I’m as clueless now as I was the first game I actually sat down and paid attention to.  Nevertheless, that has never stopped me from sharing my opinions on all things pigskin.  Here’s what I’ve observed so far this season:

College: The Florida Gators are a great football team, but they are not the number one team in the country.  I know it’s theirs to lose, but they’ve yet to play a top 25 opponent, and their vaunted defense has looked inconsistent at times.  I think Alabama is the number one team in the country, and oh by the way, Boise State could end the season at number two.  They dismantled an Oregon team the first game of the year so badly that we all thought Oregon was a really bad team.  Turns out, Oregon is pretty darn good.  Oregon may very well win the PAC 10.  If Oregon wins out and Boise State wins out, it’s going to be tough to keep Boise State out of the National Championship game (mythical as it may be).   I’m picking LSU to lose this week, and Alabama will eliminate Florida or if I’m wrong about Florida, they will eliminate Alabama.  Texas has a gauntlet of games left that include Oklahoma and a conference championship if they make it that far.  There are a lot of chances for Boise State to take that number two spot.

NFL: I’ve watched two Colts’ games this year, and I have to tell you, I’ve never seen Peyton Manning this relaxed.  He’s always been able to manage a game better than anybody, but this year he’s managing games better than even Peyton Manning.  When Bob Sanders comes back, the defense will up its game, and the Colts will be hard to keep out of the Super Bowl.  The scary thing is the Giants are looking good, too.  Their running game is awesome, and their defense can dominate a game.  We could have a Manning brothers’ Super Bowl this year.  BTW – My Panthers suck!  Tim Tebow could be a Carolina Panther next year… if we didn’t give away our first round pick.

Fantasy: Proof positive I have no idea what I’m talking about.  The team I complained about earlier this year is 3-0.  I tweaked the roster a little, but not enough to make the claim that I’m a fantasy football genius.  The other team where I spent time lining up the picks for the draft is 1-2.  And that one win was by the skin of my fantasy teeth.

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Word Count Meter for Book Four of The Oz Chronicles: The Land of the Dead

Okay, to keep me honest, I’m going to post a word count every Monday for Book 4 of the Oz Chronicles, Land of the Dead. If you think I’m slacking, let me know in the comments. I can take it.


BTW – If you’ve got a project you want to monitor with this nifty cartoon, click here: Writertopia

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Lost Days – Post 31 (Get a free book)

This is the 31st installment of the book I am currently writing. It is Sci-Fi/Adventure for young adult. It is not part of the Oz Chronicle series. Click on the “Lost Days Book” category on the right to read from the beginning. Or you can click here

**Special Announcement: Due to the unexpected response to last week’s announcement about the free ARC give away for “Lost Days” I’ve decided to double the offer.  I’m giving away 10 more.  Contact me via email with the subject line “Send me a free ARC.”  Remember I can’t send it to you without your mailing address.  You can click here if you want more information. 

“Nice,” was the first thing Joyner said to me.  He met me at the front entrance to the school and walked me to my first class.  He was wearing a suit.  I was a little surprised, because I wasn’t sure if someone of his stature would actually be going to the funeral, but by the looks of everyone in school, they were all planning on going mainly to get out of afternoon classes.  It was almost like the school was buying mourners for Elizabeth Starling.  I hoped it would make Ginger feel loved.  I had a feeling she was smart enough to see it for what it really was.  “You feeling better?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said.  “Nothing serious.”

“Can I give you a ride to the funeral?”

I nodded.

“Got any crazy uncle stories for me today?” he asked.

I chuckled.  “No.  He might not be as crazy as I thought he was.”

“Really?  That’s kind of disappointing,” he said jokingly.  “What changed your mind?”

I looked at him.  Should I tell him about Uncle Crew and Ginger’s mom?  I cleared my throat and only told him half of the story.  “He’s not into Bigfoot.  He’s into owls.”

“Owls?”

“Short-eared… something.”

“He hunts them?” Joyner asked.

“No,” I said.  “He takes pictures of them. Studies them.  He says they’re endangered.  He’s trying to preserve their territory.”

“Cool,” he said. 

“I guess,” I responded.

“He takes pictures of them… where?”

I shrugged.  “Shawnee National Forest.  Little Grand Canyon.  Just around.”

“And he’s got pictures?”

I thought about it.  “I saw some owls, but I’m not sure if they’re the endangered ones.”

“Can I see them?” he asked with unexpected enthusiasm.

“You want to see pictures of the owls?”

“Why not?” he asked.  “Is that so weird?”

I smiled playfully.  “Kind of.”

He smiled back and squeezed the back of my neck.  Shivers went down my spine and I could feel goose bumps pop up all over my body.  As corny as it sounds, it felt like I had never been touched by a boy before, and honestly at that moment, I couldn’t remember if I had been.  “I’ve just never seen an endangered animal before… I mean close up.  I think I’d like to get involved with the cause.”

I looked at him cockeyed.  “Okay, but Uncle Crew isn’t really the type who works well with others.  You might have to help the owls without helping Uncle Crew.”

“I was hoping I could meet him.  Pick his brain, you know.”

“Not a good idea.”

We stopped in front of my class.  “Okay, I’ll settle for the pictures for now,” he said. 

The bell rang, and I turned to go into the classroom when he grabbed my arm.  “When?”

“When what?” I asked.

“When can I see them?” he asked pulling me closer.

I resisted, but he kept pulling.  “Wow, you really want to see those pictures.”

“So, shoot me for caring about one of God’s creatures.”  His tone was hard to read.  I think he was trying to be funny, but he sounded a little frustrated.

I was a little unnerved by his sudden keen interest in owls.  “I have them on my laptop.”

“Cool, I can swing by your house after the funeral and look at them.”

I shook my head.  “I don’t think that would be such a good idea.”

“Why?” This time I knew he was frustrated.

“It’s just that it’s my grandparent’s house, and I really shouldn’t have any uninvited guests over.”  I was pretty sure that Nana Taffy and granddaddy wouldn’t mind if he came over, but I was really unsettled by his need to see the pictures. 

He shrugged.  I think he sensed my tenseness.  “Cool, Friday then.  I’ll pick you up a little early for pizza.”

I nodded.  “Friday.  That’ll work.”

Danny Perry ran by and yelled out, “T, we’ll be late for Mr. Hammond’s class.  He’ll have coach all over us.”

“Coming,” Joyner yelled back.  He smiled and said, “You look really good today.”

I blushed and walked into my class when a bell went off in my head.  ‘T.’

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ESPN College Football Rankings

Look out for Boise State! Two teams ranked ahead of them will end the season with at least one loss because they are part of the trio from the SEC and all of them have to go through one another to get to the BCS. If Oregon can win out, Boise has a shot at the NC game!

[clearspring_widget title=”ESPN College Football Rankings” wid=”471f9898f9ab1c99″ pid=”4abf9f204e29ff67″ width=”300″ height=”387″ domain=”widgets.espn.go.com”]

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“Paranormal Activity” Official Movie Trailer – I Smell Hype!

They are calling this movie the next Blair Witch Project, which scares me… because that movie sucked. In fact, that movie is the 2nd biggest reason I no longer take Rolling Stone magazine seriously. They called Blair Witch “scary as hell!” It was silly as hell. BTW – The biggest reason I no longer take Rolling Stone magazine seriously is because they think Yoko Ono is a musical genius, but I digress. I give you the official trailer for Paranormal Activity.

Color me skeptical.

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Dating Videos from the 80’s!

Before there was online dating and single’s lines, there was video dating!  I’m a child of the 80’s, and I’m so glad I did not commit my pick up skills to video like this collection of single dweebs from the Reagan era.  BTW – at the 2:50 mark on the video a guy says he doesn’t want to date any “hamsters.”  Other than the cute little furry rodent, I have no idea what a hamster is.  Anyone from the 80’s remember the term “hamster” when referring to a woman?  I’m truly baffled.  The ironic thing is the guy isn’t one to be so picky. 

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Freaky Search Friday – September 25, 2009 Edition

I am not, nor have I ever been a woman!

Ugly Evolution or Hottest Man Alive?

My favorite day of the week is here!  Not because it kicks off the weekend, but because I get to write my Freaky Search Friday weekly post.  Lest you think otherwise, I love all you freak out there.  You’ve made my blogging life interesting.  Keeping freaking it up!  These are the top ten freakiest search terms people used to find my blog this past week.  Enjoy!

10. маленькие татуировки –Gobidy-goop to you, too.  I think it’s Russian.  If so, it makes perfect sense for my blog to find its way in this persons search results.  I’m known for my Russian prose.

9. evolution photos, ugly to pretty – Sure Australopithecus africanus is no runway model, but ugly?  That’s kind of harsh.

8. monster suit – For that very special meeting when just a normal suit won’t do.

7. is jeff goldblum sick? – That depends on what you mean by sick!  Oh, rim shot!

6. what are nice pauses in a story – I wouldn’t know. All my story pauses are vicious.

5. carrot head steroids & carrot head plastic surgery– The man spends years developing an act and a style and people still can’t get his name right.  It’s Carrot Top!  Carrot head is just ridiculous.

4. poop identifier – Identifying poop must be a growth industry because someone searched for “animal poop identifier” last week.   There is such a thing as too much information.

3.  poop in your car – I just don’t think I can do it.  I can’t even poop on a plane.

2. leatherboobs.com – Wow!  That is taking the concept of fake breasts way too far.  I guess technically that a cow’s utter could be considered leather boobs.  Or is that boob?

And the number 1 freakiest search term used to find my blog is:

1. hottest man alive – It’s my Russian roots that make me so damn good looking.  I can’t help but feel this persons absolute frustration when they clicked on my blog expecting to find the hottest man alive.

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Which Paranormal & Cryptozoology TV Shows Make the Grade?

The Coolest Show About Crazy Crap!

The Coolest Show About Crazy Crap!

Television is full of “investigative” shows about the paranormal and the world of cryptozoology these days.  Not surprisingly, most of them are laughably bad, but a couple of them are worth the couch time it takes to watch them.  Here’s my rundown of the most talked about.

Ghost AdventuresTravel Channel: This is almost so schmaltzy and corny it’s worth watching.  The main adventurer is Zak Bagans.  Zak’s shirts are as small as his ego is big.  Together with two other guys who seem to be relatively well-balanced, he takes the viewers on an hour long ghostly journey filled with startled looks and stifled screams.  Zak’s favorite line in every show is “Shhhh, Oh my God, Dude, did you hear that?”  The last show I saw they heard what was pretty clearly a cat meowing, and he proclaimed with a wide-eyed gaze, “Dude, that’s a child screaming.”  The other two, intimidated by his bulging biceps popping out of his t-shirt, readily agreed.

Paranormal StateA&E: The Paranormal Research Society was founded by Ryan Buell when he was a student at Penn State.  Like anyone with an expensive college education, he parlayed his unique ghost hunting skills into a cable network television show.  He’s the Joe Friday of ghost investigators, very serious and dour.  The show includes dramatic cutaways of him recording his “director’s log,” and specially built high-tech ghost hunting equipment that you won’t see on any other program.   The group encounters a lot of demons and nasty ghosts… and what probably are some psychologically confused people who have been possessed and harassed by these unseen forces.  The real scary part here is instead of getting counseling, they’re getting exorcised by a Nittany Lion and his investigative crew.

Ghost Hunters InternationalSyFy: Believe it or not, this is a spin-off ghost hunting show.  Robb Demarest heads up a team of skeptics to investigate hauntings outside of the US.  Like their parent show, Ghost Hunters, the team sets out to find logical explanations for ghostly activity.  The best and worst thing I can say about the show is that it is bland.  They had a crazy guy on the first season who kind of made things interesting because you got the feeling he would snap at any moment, but he left and took all the potential drama with him.  The show tries, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Monsterquest History Channel: This is not a ghost show.  This show is focused on cryptid-creatures. There are no stars here… unless you count the narrator.  The show would have made the top of my list but they always claim to have made significant discoveries at the end of the show, when they actually didn’t uncover anything at all.  The interviews are good.  The production is top notch, and the science is real (unlike the ghost hunting shows).  But they never come to any conclusions.  It frustrates the hell out me.

Ghost HuntersSyFy:  This is the best of the ghost investigation shows and it is the show from which Ghost Hunters International spun.  It features a pair of plumbing partners, Jay and Grant, who work as ghost hunters at night.  They call themselves TAPS, which I believe stands for The Atlantic Paranormal Society.  They’ve assembled a highly likeable team of investigators who enjoy their job.  Jay and Grant are just a couple of regular guys who have a real fascination with ghosts.  As much as you can be, they are experts in all ghostly matters.  They are the Woodward and Bernstein of the ghost hunting community, and if such a thing exists in the paranormal world, they give their profession credibility.

Destination TruthSyFy:  This is a show that combines the best of cryptozoology and the best of the paranormal.  The star of the show is Josh Gates who’s part adventurer, part comedian, part Jim Halpert from The Office with his caddish looks into the camera.  Josh and his team seem to get the joke.  They know that 99% of everything they investigate is complete nonsense that can be logically explained.  The fun of the show comes from that one percent of the time when they have absolutely no explanation, when even they must concede that something beyond the known world is going on.  You get the sense that they aren’t just having a good time.  They are professionals who move in like a highly trained tactical team to peel away the confusion and gather evidence.  The show gets extra bonus points for making Jael DePardo part of the team.  Like I always say, if you’re going to stomp through the woods on a cold and gloomy night looking for unknown creatures and/or spirits, bring a cute girl.

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