"Blog": No. 1 Word of the Year

Tuesday, 30 Nov 2004 | Internet

According to Merriam-Webster Online, "blog" was the most popular word lookup of 2004 and will appear in their 2005 Collegiate Dictionary. It's kind of cool to be associated with such a popular word. ;)

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Holiday Disneyland Visit with Dad

Saturday, 27 Nov 2004 | Disneyland, Family

Yesterday, Toni, Erin and I took my dad to Disneyland for the afternoon and evening. He wanted to see the holiday decorations and see the holiday versions of the Haunted Mansion and It's a Small World. He also got to see the holiday fireworks show and snow on Main Street U.S.A. Afterward, we all went to warm ourselves in front of the grand fireplace at the Grand Californian Hotel while Christmas Carolers serenaded us.

We thought there would be a light crowd since everyone would be out shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, but we were wrong. It was very busy and we had quite a challenge navigating my dad in a wheelchair throughout the park. A cast member told Toni that it's the busiest day of the year. Overall, a very nice time was had by all. :)

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Taffy's 24 Week Photo

Saturday, 27 Nov 2004 | Pets

Taffy's 24 Week Photo

Taffy is warm and comfy in her new winter fleece sweater Toni bought for her.

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Disneyland's Public Opening Day

Tuesday, 23 Nov 2004 | Disneyland, Trivia

Since Disneyland's 50th Anniversary is just around the corner next year, here's a quiz question for you Disney fans out there:

Q: On what date was Disneyland first opened to the public?

A: July 18th, 1955. Disneyland did not open to the public until the day after it's official opening on July 17th. The first day was for invited guests only and the television viewing audience.

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Muttluks Could Rescue Taffy Too!

Monday, 22 Nov 2004 | Pets

Muttluks

While searching for shoes for Taffy this evening, I came across Muttluks, whick look very cute and seems like it would be even more comfortable than the Paw Tectors. The sole is a water resistant leather and the shape looks more like a boot, but I think the water protection may be better on the Paw Tectors due to its rubberized exterior.

My local pet store didn't have the "Itty Bitty" size Muttluks Taffy needs, so I may order them online. They look so cute and are very well made.

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Paw Tectors to the Rescue!

Monday, 22 Nov 2004 | Pets

Paw Tectors

We've recently had a problem with Taffy not wanting to go to the bathroom outside since it's been so cold and damp. So, we thought the obvious solution is some sort of dog sweater. But I didn't realize that you can get dog boots to protect and insulate their paws from the cold.

Enter Paw Tectors, an easy on, easy off, fleece-lined, non-skid, velcro fastened dog paw protector available in red or black. I think this along with a sweater is just what the veterinarian ordered for Taffy's dilemma.

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Hong Kong Disneyland Opens in 2005

Monday, 22 Nov 2004 | Disney

Hong Kong Disneyland Aerial

Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney announced September 12th, 2005 as the official opening day for Hong Kong Disneyland, located on Lantau Island. This will be Disney's first theme park in China and will feature Main Street U.S.A., Sleeping Beauty Castle, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, eight restaurants and two Disney-style hotels.

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Disneyland for Lisa's Birthday

Sunday, 21 Nov 2004 | Disneyland, Family

Lisa's Birthday at Disneyland

Toni and I treated her sister Lisa to Disneyland for her birthday. We went early, stayed late and had a wonderful time. We started the day with beignets and coffee at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen at Downtown Disney. Then we went to Disneyland, first to get Lisa a birthday sticker at City Hall, then to experience the Haunted Mansion dressed up for Christmas. Be sure to get a sticker on your birthday because the castmembers will wish you happy birthday all day long and you'll get extra special treatment. Then we went to DCA to ride Soarin' Over California twice. Then, back to Disneyland to ride on Indiana Jones Temple of Doom. For lunch, we ate at Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square.

Then I had the most fun and memorable time at the Billy Hill & The Hillbillies show at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland. If you haven't had a chance to see this show, I recommend it highly. It's VERY entertaining and funny. I made sure to get a table front center. I don't want to give away what happens in the show, but suffice it to say the Lisa was quite embarassed and I was close to hyperventilating from laughter. Lisa did manage to have a good time despite the attention she drew at the show.

Later, we went to the Aladdin show at the Hyperion Theater in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot. While I was waiting in line, Toni and Lisa went to the restroom. They started letting people into the theater queue area, so I got seperated from them. They did manage to find me before the show started and I had a nice chat with some people from Edmonton, Canada while I waited. The Aladdin show is quite entertaining and well done. The actor who plays the Genie steals the show, always adding ad-lib humor at each performance.

Toni tried desperately to get me on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but I wouldn't budge. I have a strong dislike for vertical drops. So, Lisa went on the ride with her while I browsed the shops.

We ended our day with a tour of the rest DCA. Lisa was very excited to get a package of freshly made corn tortillas at the Mission Tortilla Factory. Then we walked to Disney's Grand Californian Hotel to enjoy the spacious and beautiful lobby and warm ourselves by the fire. We ate dinner at Storytellers Cafe. The Roasted Corn Chowder is a favorite of mine. Finally we went to The World of Disney and Emporium shops because Lisa wanted to pick up souvenirs for her family. We got caught in the rain walking back to the car from the tram and it poured on and off all the way home. We slept soundly last night wearied by exhaustion and were awakened early by Taffy to see it snow at our house! Boy, what a weekend.

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Taffy's 23 Week Photo

Friday, 19 Nov 2004 | Pets

Taffy's 23 Week Photo

I had Taffy pose on an American Flag throw this week to add some variety to the background at Toni's request.

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National Geographic Pictures of the Year

Thursday, 18 Nov 2004 | Photography

National Geographic's website has downloadable wallpapers featuring their Pictures of the Year 2004. I've always admired their photographers' works. The images tell me that capturing color and simplicity are key to dynamic photography.

Check out the gallery, National Geographic's Greatest Portraits too. I love how they capture the essence and emotion of the subjects.

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Vladimir Guerrero Named AL MVP

Tuesday, 16 Nov 2004 | Sports

Vlad Smiling

Anaheim Angels' right fielder, Vladimir Guerrero wins the title of American League Most Valuable Player with 21 out of 28 first-place votes. I am very pleased that he received this honor. He deserves to be recognized for his contribution to the Angels ball club.

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Mickey's 2005 Rose Parade Marshal

Tuesday, 16 Nov 2004 | Disney

Mickey Grand Marshall

Mickey Mouse has been chosen the Grand Marshal for the 2005 Tournament of Roses Parade, themed "Celebrate Family."

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Disneyland's Decked Out for Christmas!

Tuesday, 16 Nov 2004 | Disneyland

Disneyland Ornaments

Disneyland Park and Disney's California Adventure are all decked out for Christmas. The tree lighting and official decorations were official at Disneyland as of November 5th. Christmas is one of my favorite times to visit Disneyland because the decorations make it extra special and festive. I've even heard rumors that snow can be seen falling on Main Street at night. If you get the chance, stroll over to the Grand Californian Resort lobby to curl up in front of the fireplace and be impressed by the grandeur of the architecture and Christmas tree.

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How Can I See Larger Photos?

Tuesday, 16 Nov 2004 | Tips

When you're browsing through any Photo of the Day entry, you can click on the picture to see a larger, more detailed image.

Go ahead, give it a try. ;)

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Taffy Loses Another Baby Tooth

Sunday, 14 Nov 2004 | Pets

Taffy lost another baby tooth today. Strangely, Erin was the one to notice it today too. It looks like Taffy's going to be an adult dog before we know it. They grow up so fast. Sigh.

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Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade

Sunday, 14 Nov 2004 | Christian

Billy Graham

The Billy Graham Crusade is coming to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on November 18th-21st. This will most likely be the last time eighty-six year old Billy Graham will conduct a crusade in Southern California. I'm sure this will prove to be an historic event. Toni and I, as well as my dad, his health permitting, will be attending on Sunday, the 21st. We have never attended a Billy Graham Crusade. I encourage everyone to attend and bring along a friend.

We ended up not going to the crusade because the weather was very cold and there was rain forcasted for the afternoon. I'm quite disappointed, but I think it would not have been good for my dad given the conditions.

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Thanks, Jenny!

Saturday, 13 Nov 2004 | Internet

ljc

Jenny was gracious enough to add me to her favorite links at her very cute and professionally deisgned blog, ljc blog. She's a very fun and crafty gal who resides in Rochester, New York with her husband and cute pug.

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Hearty Beef Stew

Saturday, 13 Nov 2004 | Recipes

Serves 6 to 8

Make this stew in a large, heavy-bottomed soup kettle measuring at least ten inches in diameter. If the kettle is any smaller, you may need to cook the meat in three batches rather than two.

3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium-large onions, chopped coarse (about 2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken-flavored broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
6 small boiling potatoes, peeled and halved
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup frozen peas (6 ounces), thawed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Heat oven to 250 degrees. Place beef cubes in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat in large nonreactive soup kettle; add beef to kettle in two separate batches. Brown meat on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, adding remaining tablespoon of oil if needed. Remove meat and set aside. Add onions to now empty kettle; sauté until almost softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic; continue to sauté about 30 seconds longer. Stir in flour; cook until lightly colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits that may have stuck to kettle. Add stock, bay leaves, and thyme; bring to simmer. Add meat; return to simmer. Cover and place in oven; simmer about 1 hour.

Remove kettle from oven, add potatoes and carrots, cover, and return to oven. Simmer until meat is just tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove stew from oven. (Can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated up to 3 days.)

Add peas and allow to stand 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, adjust seasonings, and serve.

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Something Warm and Yummy

Saturday, 13 Nov 2004 | Cooking

ljc

Well, today Chef Mike, aka disneymike, got up the energy to shop for groceries and cook a meal from scratch. Since it's been a little chilly at night, I decided to make Hearty Beef Stew because we all love it so much and it sticks to your bones. BTW, I love the smells when I'm cooking food. It's really intoxicating. :)

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Veteran's Dinner at Harvest

Saturday, 13 Nov 2004 | Christian, Family

Toni accompanied my dad to the annual Veteran's Dinner at Harvest Christian Fellowship last night. Harvest puts on a free dinner for all veterans and a guest to show their appreciation for their service to the country. Since dad could only take one person, I asked Toni to go with him because I wanted her to have a good time. Last year my dad went with my mom. My mom passed away earlier this year, so I didn't want him to have to go alone.

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Taffy Loses a Puppy Tooth

Saturday, 13 Nov 2004 | Pets

Taffy's Tooth

Taffy was playfully biting at Erin's hand this morning. Then Erin says, "That's her tooth!" I didn't realize that puppies lose their puppy teeth and have adult teeth grow in. It makes sense, but I just hadn't thought about it. Toni inspected her mouth and it looks like a new tooth is indeed coming in.

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Taffy's 22 Week Photo

Friday, 12 Nov 2004 | Pets

Taffy at 22 Weeks

Taffy kicking back for her weekly photo shot.

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Where Did the Photos Go?

Thursday, 11 Nov 2004 | Internet

I've moved the Photo of the Day category to a new blog (more specifically, a photoblog) which allows for a larger image and minimal interface. You can check it out by choosing "Photo of the Day" from the sidebar. If you left a comment one of my photos in the past, it will not automatically transfer to the new section. Please feel free to view and comment on my photographs. Thanks!

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Dad's Safely Home

Tuesday, 9 Nov 2004 | Family

My dad was discharged from the hospital today. My father-in-law was nice enough to bring him home and go back to the hospital again to get my dad's slippers that were forgotten on the first trip home. Toni made a nice dinner for Erin, Dad and me. We had a nice visit. Dad is doing very well and is able to walk and get around, albeit slowly. He will have a nurse coming to check on him twice a day for a little while. All indications are he will recover nicely.

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Firefox 1.0 Now Available!

Tuesday, 9 Nov 2004 | Internet

Firefox Release Logo

Mozilla has released Firefox 1.0. As I mentioned before, I am a fan of Firefox and it is my default browser for Windows. On my iMac at home, my browser of choice is Safari.

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You Can Fly with Keyhole

Monday, 8 Nov 2004 | Computers

Keyhole Logo

Keyhole software is really cool. It uses satellite photographs of the earth which enable you to fly from space to your home town. It takes a bit of processor and graphics card power, but the results are impressive enough for Google to acquire this bit of software magic.

Try out the free seven day demo to see what the buzz is about. It's really neat to zoom into a map like it's a movie. You can even tilt the map to see the terrain. If the graphics seem fuzzy, don't worry, the streaming indicator will increase to 100% as it loads the info from the web to your computer. After it's been logged on for awhile, the clarity of the views will get much better. My only disappointment is that it's not available for Mac OS X or else I would be buying a copy right now.

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It Was Nice to See Dad

Monday, 8 Nov 2004 | Family

I went to visit with my dad at the hospital this evening. Toni had been with him all day. She is such a great daughter-in-law both by my and my dad's admission. Thank you so much Toni! He had been nauseous earlier, but was able to enjoy a double serving of peaches and something to drink while I was there. He seemed to be doing very well under the circumstances and was in good spirits. Danny showed up and then Diana and Deidre as Toni and I were saying goodbye.

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Dad Is Awake and Looking Good

Monday, 8 Nov 2004 | Family

Toni called again to say that she and her parents visited with my dad in his room. He is awake and doing well. I'll be going to the hospital to see my dad after work today.

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Dad's Out of Surgery

Monday, 8 Nov 2004 | Family

Toni called me at 2:07 pm to say that my dad was out of surgery and would be admitted to Room 119, Bed 2 shortly. She hadn't spoken to the surgeon yet, but we're assuming everything went fine. I'll keep everyone updated as soon as I hear more.

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Seniors Endure Long Wait for Flu Shots

Monday, 8 Nov 2004 | Daily, News

Flu Waiting Line

Palm Springs senior citizens endured a long line winding around a field next to a medical clinic administering flu shots which are in high demand and short supply this season. If you look closely, you can see the line start off to the left and wind around to the right in the distance.

Flu Medical Response

An elderly man receives medical attention from the Palm Springs Fire Department. Apparently the wait in line proved too difficult. I can't help but have my heart go out to these people.

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The Incredibles Debuts at $70.7 Million

Sunday, 7 Nov 2004 | Disney, Movies

The Incredibles by Pixar debuted with a record breaking Disney box office ticket sales of $70.7 million for the 3-day weekend, outdoing Finding Nemo's $70.3 million debut.

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The Polar Express

Sunday, 7 Nov 2004 | Movies

The Polar Express

The Polar Express, a Robert Zemeckis film opens in theaters on Wednesday, November 10th. It is the first film to be completely done in Performance Capture, a new technology that uses digital cameras to film live action and transforms it into animation. It will be released simultaneously in 2D and in 3D in IMAX theaters. I am looking forward to this film. The cinematography is stunning and mesmerizing. Tom Hanks stars as the conductor.

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Dad's Prostate Surgery

Sunday, 7 Nov 2004 | Family

Dad's prostate cryosurgery is scheduled for tomorrow at 9 am at Corona Regional Medical Center. Toni will be accompanying him for his 7 am arrival. The surgery is expected to last about two hours. He will stay overnight and return home on Tuesday. I'll be going to see him after work tomorrow.

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Toni Bakes!

Saturday, 6 Nov 2004 | Family, Food

Burning Love Cake
Burning Love Chocolate Cream Cake

Pound Cake
Grandmother Paul's Sour Cream Pound Cake

Toni and I went to a friend's house for a triple birthday party. It was Ron and his two daughters, Anna and Rhonda's birthday we were celebrating. Toni was asked to make a cake for the party. She made her well loved Burning Love Chocolate Cream Cake and a Grandmother Paul's Sour Cream Pound Cake. They came out wonderfully as usual and were enjoyed by everyone. The chocolate cake is a four layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting; very rich and chocolatey, yet light. The pound cake is a recipe from Paula Deen on Food Network.

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Taffy's 21 Week Photo

Friday, 5 Nov 2004 | Pets

Taffy's 21 Week Photo

Here's Taffy posing once again, this time for her 21st week picture. She sends out a big HOWDY to her biggest internet fan, Janet!

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Easy Jury Duty for Toni

Thursday, 4 Nov 2004 | Family

I checked with the Superior Court of Riverside County web site today to find out when Toni needs to report for jury duty. She was scheduled to go on Monday, but each day until today it said that her reporting date had been rescheduled and to check back the following day for reporting instructions. Well, today it said that she didn't need to report at all and her jury duty service was fulfilled for one year. That's cool. I've never had that happen to me. Generally we need to go in one day. If you don't get selected for a jury panel, your service is fulfilled.

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Lunch and Dinner Talk

Wednesday, 3 Nov 2004 | Observations

I went by myself to lunch today at Carl's Jr. While I was sitting there munching on my Western Bacon Cheeseburger, I noticed a couple of ladies sitting a few seats to the left of me. One was a shy, reserved, pregnant thirty something lady and the other was a woman who appeared to be in her fifties. Sitting across from each other, the older lady was talking about her daughter's wedding and reception. And then about how theaters don't make much money on ticket sales because they have to give a very high percentage back to the studios and how the percentage goes down as the movie is out longer. I wasn't really trying to eaves drop, but I couldn't help but hear her because she talked in a rather loud and brisk tone. What was interesting to me was that the younger lady just politely said yes and uh-huh interspersed with a few short sentences. The older lady completely dominated the conversation. She talked the whole time with hardly a respite for a breath of air.

The other day I was also eating alone at McDonald's and I noticed a family sit down to eat dinner. There was a mother and a father and three children; a toddler girl and an older boy and girl. The boy appeared to be the oldest to me, somewhere in the eight or nine year old range. Well, the youngest girl, who I have to say was very cute, had a rather cranky disposition. I tend to have a rather cranky disposition a lot too. In fact, my mom, a South Korea born U.S. citizen used to always ask me, "Michael, why you so crouchy all the time?" When the word grouchy rolled off her lips, it would come out sounding like crouchy because of her accent and she would often omit verbs from her sentences. Anyway, the boy was quietly eating his food. I noticed that the mom was quite abrupt and altogether not pleasant with the boy and he was doing NOTHING wrong. In contrast, she was ever so pleasant and patient with the crouchy little girl who alternated between making a fuss and just looking downright unsatisfied. I felt bad for the boy because it seemed he could do no right while his cute little sister could do no wrong. I thought it must be hard on him receiving all the frustration from the mom just because he was older and not as cute as he once was. I realize this could be an isolated incident. I only have one child, so this dynamic never comes into play in my life. I just encourage those of you blessed with multiple children (I praise and admire your hard work and dedication) to take a moment to assess whether you're showing enough love to each precious one. :)

Sometimes, the dynamics of relationships intrigue me.

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Erin Passes DMV Test

Tuesday, 2 Nov 2004 | Family

Erin took her DMV learning permit written test yesterday afternoon and passed it on her first try. She now has her learning permit, but must wait until her behind the wheel training begins before she can drive accompanied by an adult driver.

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I Voted Electronically

Tuesday, 2 Nov 2004 | Daily

I Voted

I went to my local polling place at 7:00 am to check out the line. I was 8th, so voting was pretty painless. Here's proof positive emblazoned on the shirt my dad bought me in Hawaii. I'm hope your voting experience went as smoothly as mine. And if you haven't voted and it's not yet 8:00 pm, run, don't walk, to your local polling place and vote too!

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Hummer Announces Mid-Sized H3

Monday, 1 Nov 2004 | News

Hummer H3

Hummer has announced the mid-sized H3 for 2006. It has the distinctive Hummer style, but in a smaller, more gas efficient package. It's a kinder, gentler Hummer SUV, about the size of a Jeep Liberty. It's reported to get up to 20 miles per gallon. No price has been set, but the H3 is expected to sell for $30,000 to $35,000. It is equipped with a 220-hp, 3.5-liter DOHC 20-valve all-aluminum inline five-cylinder Vortec engine. Available late Spring 2005.

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An Early Start

Monday, 1 Nov 2004 | Daily, Travel

Toni was kind enough to wake me up this morning for work. She says, "It's 6:15, you've got to get up." So I get up and quickly shower and prepare for my 75 minute (traffic cooperating) commute. Later, I look at the clock and notice it's twenty minutes to six! The main illuminated digital clock in the bedroom and Toni's alarm clock had not been reset to the new time. Well, needless to say, I was at work nice and early.

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