Category Archives: News

Recent news I find interesting, funny, or ironic.

Life Playlist – June 2012

Hospital Hill half marathon – Beth completed her second Hospital Hill half marathon in early June and set a new personal record for herself by a few seconds. I still can’t believe she just decided one day to run a marathon. I’m proud of her.

Taylor Roadshow – I went to the Taylor Road Show held at Mass Street Music in Lawrence. Taylor sends out a couple employees and a couple dozen guitars and explains their product line focusing on body styles and wood types and how these variables affect the sound. The evening is geared a bit toward those considering buying a guitar and wondering what the best choice would be. The Taylor guys they sent did a great job and even though I’ve had a Taylor for almost two years I still found their presentation very interesting.

Doomsday Preppers – The best show on TV we haven’t even seen. A couple friends told us about this show of people preparing for the end of the world, however they think it may come. What we heard about the show sounded almost unbelievable but eventually we got around to watching a few previews on National Geographic’s website and it didn’t disappoint.

This is probably my favorite show re-cap:

Other highlights for the month include:

  • Doing some much needed car repairs with our friend Wayne
  • Hosting parents-in-law
  • Hosting sister-in-law for wedding dress shopping
  • Whiryball for John’s 2nd annual Father’s Day gathering.


Due to the type of stuff I have been working on lately I have been able to listen to quite a bit of Pandora while I work and a few new channels of mine have worked out pretty well for me lately. The nice thing about the new channels is that I’m a bit less distracted since I don’t know most of the songs that are coming up so far, but I’m listening enough to get used to the bands and their sounds. New channels:
– Punch Brothers (Thanks Rob)
– Black Keys (Thanks Matt and Rob)
– The National (Thanks Reuss)
– David Mayfield (Thanks Taylor guitars)

SOLA-MI – The digital scavenger hunt started by Derek Webb over a month in advance has resulted in (so far) a “soundtrack” to a supposedly forthcoming movie. The theme has to do with the process of a computer or robot becoming self-aware and “waking up”. It’s an electronic project but I actually like it quite a bit and it’s growing on me each time I hear it. Derek has done the writing and had someone else do the vocals but I still feel like you can hear Derek coming through in the music and writing. It remains to be seen if this is the end, but Derek has suggested there is more to come in this project. It’s a free download from

Memorial Day Estes Park, Colorado Trip

We went to Colorado for a good friend’s wedding and decided to stay a couple extra days. We were fortunate to have good weather while we were there, despite some very cold and rainy forecasts. We found ourselves hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park in a mixture of warm sunshine and light snow. For those familiar with the Park, we took the free shuttle to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead and hiked to Alberta Falls and then Mills Lake, which was worth the hike. We went back by way of Bear Lake.

While in Estes Park we also signed up for a 2 hour horseback ride at the Cowpoke Corral just southwest of Estes Park on the way to the YMCA. We had a great guide that took us up a trail in the mountains and back down. I had the slowest horse of the bunch named “Ace”. The group had to constantly stop and wait for us to catch up. It was a great time and a new kind of adventure for me.

We enjoyed being around Estes as we found a couple great places to eat (thanks to our friends Rob and Sarah) including the Dunraven Inn (order the lasagna; make reservations on the weekends) and Poppy’s Pizza and Grill (their single sized pizzas are a great deal!).

As is common on an Achenbach vacation, we treated ourselves to ice cream at least once on this trip. A thousand local snack joints and we end up here:

Finally, on the way back to KC we really lucked out since our hometown is right on the way home and my brother and sister were both in town from Chicago and Mississippi. The previous day was my dad’s birthday so we all went out for dinner at Tuscon’s in Salina. At Tuscon’s, I couldn’t resist the “Kansas City Combo”, which was choice of two meats. I went with brisket and pulled pork. There was some mix up and about half of our meals came out 10-15 minutes after the other half. Fortunately, one of the outcomes of the mix-up was an unexpected half slab of ribs on top of my already-full dinner plate:

After dinner, we went back to my parent’s house and played some cards, ate some snacks and played a great game of “name that tune” that will be remembered for a long time.

Life Playlist – March 2012

Beth’s mom made a quick trip to KC in the middle of the month to help celebrate Beth’s birthday. Among other activities the two ladies worked to create some much needed decoration for our living room walls and ended up with this:


Wichita “vacation” and Gungor concert with The Brilliance – Toward the end of March Beth and I took a few days off of work to head to Wichita to visit Beth’s sister and sister’s boyfriend. While there we got to see a Gungor concert at the very cool Orpheum Theatre. We got VIP tickets so we could ask questions of Michael Gungor before the show.

Gungor put on a great show and the surprise of the night was opening act “The Brilliance”. They fit in great with the mood of the night.

We spent the next couple days hanging out in Wichita, eating donuts, walking the river and having fun.

Project #1 – Garage door – We’re not usually short on repair projects, and this month was no exception except for the fact that I paid real live experts to actually do some of the fixing. Project #1 was our garage door. I came home from work one day to discover that the opener just wouldn’t open the door. I could hear it trying, but failing. I was able to get inside with my key (so old fashioned!) and went into the garage to find a broken torsion spring.

Broken Torsion Springs

I asked around at work and got the name of Harm Waterborg, who came out the next day and with great skill and service replaced my two springs and got our garage door running more quietly than it ever has. I highly recommend Harm if you need any garage door service. He’s out of Gardner, but also operates throughout Kansas City.

Project #2 – our front windshield – Starting at the end of last summer a crack was working its way across the windshield of our car. It stopped expanding for a few months and now with the relative heat of Spring the crack has made it the rest of the way across the window in no time.

I chose to schedule an appointment with SafeLite online, which was super convenient. I had them come to my workplace and while I was working away at my desk their technician had a new windshield on in about an hour. I was impressed with his work and explanation of what he was doing and certain difficulties he may encounter based on looking at my car before he started (namely, rust on the frame around the window).

It’s been a few days since the installation and though it hasn’t rained yet (so I can’t check for leaks), based on my experience I’d recommend these guys.

March Madness – How can one mention March without mention of March Madness? I have loved Kansas basketball since I was a kid, and my wife is even warming up to them a bit herself. We have enjoyed watching them progress through the NCAA tournament enjoying games with friends and family.

The Brilliance – Dust We Are and Shall Return

Life Playlist – Feb 2012

New window – One of the more significant house projects this month was installing a larger window on the back side of our house. That project deserves its own blog and will come later this month.

A painter’s joke – Related to the window project, as I was reading up on how cold it can be to paint outdoors a guy on one website said, “If it’s too cold you’ll have to use two coats. Get it? Two coats!” Very funny.

Lemon Cooler CookiesLemon Coolers – My wonderful wife’s keen eye caught these cookies that are now back in production. Over the years I have described one of my favorite cookies from childhood, which was shaped like a vanilla wafer, but has a nice and sour lemony coating. These cookies matched the description exactly, and while they taste great, they aren’t the same as the originals.

I had to know if anyone else shared my experience and sure enough the Internet did not let me down. This page pretty much exactly describes my sentiments. My favorite line in this blog post is when she says, “Are they the same? Close enough to make me smile.” Exactly. Side note, I have tried one of the recipes on the web and they turned out about as good as these new boxes of cookies.

“Good morning, LOSER!” – On the topic of baked goods, I was feeling just fine about myself and my day until I happened to glance inside my Pop Tarts box and notice this message:
Sorry! You're not a winner!
Thanks Kellogg’s!

Trip to the homeland – We made spontaneous and quick trip to Lindsborg in mid-February to spend the day with our families, in particular to celebrate our dear sister’s birthday. We also got to see a couple wonderful friends before they move away for a change in job. Fun was had by all and as a bonus my parents had just returned from a cruise so we got to hear all about that

Stop this Train – a longtime John Mayer favorite of my wife’s, I have been coming around to this song for awhile now and hope to learn it on guitar soon. Not as easy as it looks, folks! Watch:

Matthew Mayfield – Missed Me – I first learned of Matthew Mayfield through NoiseTrade, a brilliant site co-founded by one of my favorite musicians, Derek Webb. I LOVE this song and video by Matthew Mayfield. Good ol’ rock and roll.

I’ve saved the best for last. My friend Joel sent this fantastic video of a popular English yard game. Watch here:

Life Playlist – Jan 2012

Inspired by my wife’s monthly posting of pictures in 2011 with her new camera, I thought it would be fun to document what I’ve been up to this month – January 2012.

Giving Blood – I gave blood for the first time on January 19, compelled by my dad-in-law’s loss of 9 units during open heart surgery a few months ago, and subsequent survival due in part to generous folks who donated their own blood not knowing if it would ever even be used. I was so grateful at the thought of strangers doing that I decided to contribute my own. I was prepared for some pain but it really wasn’t bad at all. If you’re so compelled, the Red Cross website does a great job of letting you know what to expect and you can see where the next blood drive is taking place near you.

I LOVE this article about a “cash mob” at a local hardware store in Ohio. One resident got the idea to email 40 friends asking them to spend $20 at the store on a certain day. Word spread and the article describes the outcome.

Line 6 DL-4 Switch Replacement – I started writing about this here, but it turned into it’s own blog post. I’ll probably post that within the next month. [Update: link here]

Standing at my Desk – I’ve joined that group of crazy people who sometimes stands at their desk as they work. I’m fortunate to have a desk at work that can be instantly raised or lowered, so I end up standing about two hours a day. I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile, but I recently ran across an infographic titled, “Sitting is Killing You” that kind of pushed me over the edge. It’s been a good experience and I think I’ll keep doing it. I’d never stand ALL day, but now I don’t have to sit all day either.

Italy: Antique and Modern Genius – I got this great coffee table book for Beth for Christmas. It has pictures of all the places we saw on our last vacation including our favorite little area, Cinque Terre.

Gungor – Ghosts Upon the Earth. I did something a little different when listening to this album. On Gungor’s blog, Michael recommended sitting down, reading all the intros to the songs on his blog and listening to the album as a whole with no distractions. The album attempts to create a musical picture of The Creation, the Fall and redemption. It’s interesting to see how various songs grow on you and also to find out others’ favorite songs from this album.

Forever Reign – Hillsong – I like this sound of this song though I don’t normally enjoy watching worship videos. We plan to introduce this one at our church in the near future.

Life playlist – Dec 2011

Just a few links from my life in December. These are things I’ve read, listened to or otherwise found interesting this month:

Woman finds wedding ring on carrot after 16 years – This woman (A SWEDE, no less) pulled up a carrot from her garden and attached was her wedding ring, lost 16 years ago. Read all the details, including bonus information about their pet sheep, and a family picture taken with such excitement that her husband didn’t even waste time taking off his headphones.

Here’s a fantastic article I read about the state of transportation security, mainly as it pertains to the TSA and airline “security”. The author’s position is pretty much consistent with my own. He articulated it well and while his position is clear, I found it to be an honest and fair assessment. I’m not against security or spending money on security. I also understand my inconvenience may be part of the package. However, let’s (the government) just be honest with ourselves and with the American people about what threats we face and what we’re REALLY accomplishing by spending this money and implementing these programs.

I’m looking forward to my upcoming annual reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail on Jan. 16. He is responding to a letter from Alabama clergymen which can be found here. The clergy is asking for King to stop demonstrations and “wait” for the racial matters of the day to be worked out through the legal system. King responds. I think the letter is a near-flawless example in persuasive argument and his appeal is profound and morally convicting, surely even then.

On a less serious note:

Good Love is on the Way – John Mayer. I’m currently working on learning this one on guitar. Very fun.

Gravity – John Mayer with Keith Urban. Someone pointed out to me the pickup switch he flips at 6:07. Brilliant!

Boss DD-7 – an excellent Christmas gift from my wife. Just what I wanted!

Boss DD-7 Digital Delay
Boss DD-7 Digital Delay

Summer Fun

One of the things we did this summer was buy season tickets to the Theatre in the Park shows with some friends of ours. This is a great cheap night out for couples or families. Our favorite show this summer was probably “All Shook Up”, a show that included bits of many Elvis songs and a storyline similar to the biography of Elvis himself.

It was time

Maybe even a little past.

If you can’t tell from the blurry picture (taken through glass), a neighbor down the street finally got around to mowing his lawn. It was well over a foot tall. (Click to enlarge picture) Nice!

Worlds of Fun and start of the summer

Busy times. A couple weekends ago we made a trip up to World’s of Fun with some friends and co-workers. After three years of harassment, I finally agreed to go on The Patriot roller coaster. “Friends” assured me it wasn’t as bad as the Mamba roller coaster (which somehow I’m fine with riding), but I couldn’t believe them since I knew the Patriot went upside down. The claim was that you can’t really tell when you’re upside down since the ride is fast and smooth. Turns out they were right. We survived the ride and immediately got in line to ride a second time. Good stuff. I also recommend their new roller coaster “The Prowler”. This was a smooth, fast wooden roller coaster I was really impressed with.

What we’ve been up to – Winter 2009-10 (The Bathroom Project)

Fortunately, this bathroom project isn’t caused by the presence of birds, though they like to remind us they are VERY close by, threatening to come back in at a time least convenient for us, I’m sure. No, since we’ve been in our house (almost three years now), we have wanted to “redo” our master bathroom. Not a remodel, really, but rather a cleaning up. The previous paint job was kind of rough (I’m being nice), and we wanted the color to match our bedroom. Also, like our bedroom, we decided to put up crown molding in the same manner, really making this more of a project and not just a painting job.

With the help of our great friend Norm we put up the crown in the bedroom a few months back. Remembering the tricks I learned from Norm back then, my friend Dieter and I did the same for this project. We have 10′ ceilings and we found it difficult to hang anything on our wall since things just looked dwarfed on our huge walls (no offense to dwarfs). We decided to hang the crown molding about 2 feet down from the ceiling instead of the “usual” location where the ceiling and wall meet. This gave the illusion of bringing the ceiling down a bit.

All in all, the project went great. For nerds looking for more detail on the project: We had one outside corner to assemble, and five inside corners, all 90 degrees (roughly) :-). One of the hardest parts was figuring out how to cut the boards so the corners would match up. There’s a ton of info our there on the web, but it seems like most pages offer not quite enough info, or just slightly too much so you can become confused.

Turns out for 90 degree inside and outside corners, we never had to adjust our miter saw on more than one axis. We either had to tilt it or turn it, but never both. We just had to be sure to turn the crown upside down when cutting. Using a trick from Norm, on the inside corners I ran one board straight into the wall (flush) and coped the other one, using a Dremel to back cut the wood instead of a coping saw. It seemed to allow me to be pretty precise and was relatively fast as long as I had the patience to cut awhile, then test, then cut some more.

My one outside corner didn’t line up quite as well as I would have hoped, but I was able to get it close and then fill in the rest with wood filler. You can hardly tell now.

Here are a couple pictures of the final product:

A shot of one corner of our bathroom where I installed crown molding

Finished crown molding in bathroom

The only thing left to do are a couple minor paint touch-ups. The vent fan in the ceiling is also new (upgraded from a smaller one).