Friday, May 30, 2008

Give Your Old Jeans New Life...As Home Insulation

Few things are as comfortable as a favorite well worn pair of jeans. Unfortunately, even the best pair of jeans can become unwearable over time. My jeans tend to get rips and holes around the crotch for some reason, not an easy place to patch. I wear them as long as I can for doing household chores and yard work but the holes are way too big for that now. I'm too frugal to throw them out and have been trying to find a good use for them.

Then I came across an article in the local paper about an 8th grader organizing a denim drive sponsored by Cotton Inc. and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The jeans get recycled into a cotton fiber insulation that goes into homes Habitat for Humanity is building in the New Orleans area. What a cool idea! It's good for the environment and helps out a worthy cause. Bang! My search is over.

Yesterday I stopped by the local ReStore and dropped off several pairs of jeans. There was a big bin just inside the door that was filled with donated jeans. They even had a piece of the insulation there so you can see what your old jeans will turn into. It's about 4 inches thick, soft (it is cotton) and looks like really thick carpet padding.

It takes about 500 pairs of jeans to insulate one home. Here's a promotional video about the program. Contact the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in your area to learn if they are participating in the drive and where to drop off your old jeans.

I never heard of the ReStore's basically a thrift store for surplus and used building materials that gets donated by contractors and individuals. They had tons of, flooring, complete kitchen cabinet sets, appliances, doors, windows, plumbing name it. Most of it was in good condition (some brand new). The prices are low and the proceeds go to support Habitat for Humanity. It's worth the time to visit and check if they have something useful for your next home project.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dutch Wonderland - A Fun Amusement Park For Families With Young Kids

We recently went to Dutch Wonderland for the first time and had a blast. If you've never heard of it, it's an amusement park in Lancaster, PA (Pennsylvania Dutch Country). It has a cheerful prince and princess theme complete with castle and a friendly dragon. Think DisneyWorld but much smaller with generic characters and a bit of Amish charm thrown in.

The park is perfect for kids under 10. Our little one was grinning from ear to ear the whole time...the kind of smile that lights up your world as a parent. I counted 34 rides...everything from a classic merry-go-round to a big wooden roller coaster. Kids under 36" tall can go on most of the rides and there were only 4 rides that kids had to be taller than 42" to go on. The rides are fun for adults, too, who can go on most although some are a snug fit. The smaller roller coaster had nice tight turns and good speed. The lines were short and we rode our favorite rides multiple times.

DW offers a preview deal that you should consider if you go. Buy a full day admission ticket in advance and you can go into the park after 3pm (or 3 hours before they close) for free the day before you use the ticket. We bought our tickets on Sat, went in to the park right at 3:00, rode a bunch of rides then came back Sun morning and spent the whole day there...all on the same ticket.

The park is clean with a friendly atmosphere. Maybe this was because we went early in the season, but the staff seemed really friendly and cheerful too. There are also live shows and carnival games. As I tried to tell my wife, you will get wet if you sit in the "splash zone" seats at the Frog Prince diving show. What else to tell you...oh yeah, the parking is free.

We stayed at the Old Mill Stream Campground which is right next door to DW. It took ~5 minutes to walk to the entrance of DW from our site so the location is great. Several restaurants and the outlet malls are also in walking distance. The campground has good facilities, friendly staff and is secluded enough that you don't feel close to the highway. Lots of big leafy trees and a stream running along the back of the property with farms and parkland on the other side. You can also buy discount tickets ($2 off) to DW at the campground office. Every evening an old Amish couple rode through the campground in their horse and buggy selling baked goods...cakes, pies, even farm fresh eggs. Delicious!

We'll definitely plan to go back to Dutch Wonderland if I can just get their theme song out of my head.

The Return of the Mole

Less than two weeks before the new season of The Mole starts! My wife and I are cautiously optimistic for the show. We loved the first season back in 2001. It had intrigue, exotic locations around the world and cool tasks to complete. It was the kind of show I'd like to go on.

In season 2 the show went down hill...the producers got exemption happy. Instead of players trying to complete tasks and identify who the Mole was, they were too busy competing for exemptions from the execution. The show lost focus and wasn't as fun to watch. ABC pulled it after only a few episodes.

Then the worst thing possible happened...Celebrity Mole. We saw maybe 5 nauseating minutes of it and never watched again. The show was dead to us.

Flash forward 4 or 5 years and a new non-celebrity season is about to start. The previews for this new season look good. It's got a new host...Anderson Cooper hosted the first two seasons but decided a serious journalism career was more important. Too bad, he had a great rapport with the contestants (to his credit, he didn't host the celebrity version) that added to the fun of the show. The new guy is a former sports reporter so maybe he'll do some cool stuff with the players, too. And maybe, hopefully, they'll go back to the original rules without all the exemptions.

We'll know on June 2. Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hello, world

Ladies and gentlemen, the award for "Most Original First Blog Post Title" goes to...not me.

Welcome to my first ever blog and blog post! Whenever I learned a new programming language, the first assignment was usually a "Hello World" program. This is my first blog so it seemed like an appropriate title. No doubt I'm the first person to think of it.

What is this blog about? Good question...guess I should figure that out. I've read that a good blog should be focused, preferably on one subject. That's good advice and I might like to build that kind of blog some day. First, I need to figure out which of my interests I'm able to write about well enough and in enough volume to justify its own blog.

So this blog will be about the "what nots" of life. What nots to me are the things that add flavor to every day life...little details, happenings or passing thoughts. It will cover a range of topics including entertainment, the internet, news, fantasy football, travel and what not. I'll do my best to keep it interesting and hopefully you'll find something of interest or benefit to you.

Who knows...eventually I may see a trend in postings to a specific subject and can spin off a good focused blog.