Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Are you sure this is the right trail?

Looks like fate has decided for me on tonight's blog: it is time to write about scouts.  Well, at least to write about tonight's scouting experience (the other scout stories will just have to be backfill when I'm out of ideas ... not likely to happen any time soon so don't hold your breath).

View of Garden Of The Gods from the Visitor's Center
Supposedly beginning at 6:00pm sharp (which for you non-Mormon readers actually means around 6:10pm or so) we were to leave from the Visitor Center parking lot in Garden of the Gods (GOTG); "we" being at least two leaders and a handful of 11 year-old scouts.  The plan was to hike the "green trail" which eventually connects with two different "red trails" that form a loop around GOTG that results in a little over a five-mile hike (you can look up the names yourself if you are that concerned about the details).  I think it was the Z-Team who was quoted with the phrase "I hate it when a plan doesn't come together."  (Bonus points if you know the actual reference from 80's pop culture).

There were, in fact, three adults (if you count my two peers) and 8 children (apparently this was a bring whoever wants to walk for hours kind of event).  Only three of the boys are 11 year-old scouts but whatever.  The boys were actually pretty good.  I am very proud of them!  The adults ... probably should have let the boys lead us using maps, compasses, or even listen to the one boy who suggested we say a prayer after the third time we got lost.  As this was my very first activity with these scouts (if you don't count the one meeting I had with two boys when no other leaders showed up and there was nothing planned for us to do), I felt it was not my place to step in and take charge ...

I should have chanced it.

The outermost "road" is
roughly what we traversed
Our "three-hour tour" (more Bonus Points up for grabs) actually ended up taking almost three hours ... but it should have been completed LONG before that.  We hiked probably over 8 miles (the boys didn't really complain too much but that might have been out of fear we'd let the wolves eat them).  The last 3 of these were back-tracking to find the trail we were supposed to take (which I knew and actually tried to point out but was ignored by two, apparently more knowledgeable, adults) ... in almost complete darkness.  Using cell phones as flashlights and talking loudly (so no one could get lost) we finally made it back to our cars.  Those who had thought to bring water had long before exhausted their reserviors.  The poor boys drug themselves to the cars and literally fell into their seats.  I felt terrible for them because it was our fault as leaders for not knowing where we were taking them.  But it made me smile a little bit to see the two other "adults" sweating profusely (is that bad? yeah, probably) because this was clearly the most exercise they had done in years ... or at least the most all at once.

On the plus side ... I wasn't even winded from the trip.  True, we took some breaks, but for the most part we walked at a relatively quick pace for nearly 2.5 hours.  So I think I can tackle the Manitou Incline within the next few weeks (if my nephew Alex is up for it) and I look forward to running on relatively flat terrain with my sister Jaimee in preparation for a 5K in October (to support fallen officers).  So it wasn't a total loss.  :)

In case you have earned no Bonus Points in this Blog,
here are some pretty big hints!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Didn't you say you could block ALL my shots?

So today I had the opportunity to go play basketball again on the newly reconditioned floor of the Meadowland Building (a.k.a. The Colorado Springs East Stake Center).  I love this building, but the floor is often very dusty and you just slide all over when playing.  But not today!  Last week they refinished the floor and so it has that brand new gym tackiness to it ... glorious and beautiful!  But blogging about that would take way to long so I'll just cut to the chase on the Title Question.

Monday and Thursday afternoon basketball draws a different crowd than 6:00am or even 9:00pm basketball.  The guys that play in the afternoons are generally past their prime as far as basketball is concerned.  They are still quite good, mind you, but it is because they know what their limitations are and play within those bounds (they pass more smoothly, drive and dish more effectively, but most of all they just enjoy the game).  One guy in particular is VERY loud and VERY outspoken and talks trash with anything that moves (I seriously think he heckled a 5-year old little girl on stage today ... you call that a purse?!)

Anyway, I have grown accustomed to his constant jabbering "That's goin' up!"  "Black hole!"  "He'll shoot it!" and my personal favorite "Woooo!" which is just a very loud woo sound that echos forever, usually uttered after he makes a big steal or blocks a shot.  Today was not particularly different except that he got rather upset that I called a foul on him and that I had the nerve to challenge him back when he said it was a bad call.  After that little "discussion" he seemed intent to show me he was better than I am.  To be fair, he probably is a better overall player than I am, but as a person ... well, I'll try not to judge him.

So one time after he fouled me again, disrupting what would have been a beautiful pass to my teammate that would have produced an easy two point layup, he said loudly "Don't bring that crap in here 'cause I will block everything you bring."  Um, okay ... gotcha dude ... thanks for the warning!  :)

This is taking too long so I'll just skip to the end of the story.  On a very slow fast-break, I dribbled down the middle of the lane, cut to the left (looking to pass back out for a three but my teammate was guarded) and keeping my dribble I spun back around under the rim and started to go up for the shot ... and then I paused, keeping my pivot foot, while this guy flailed his arms in the area where I normally would be shooting from (I give him credit for really knowing what people's tendencies are).  A split-second passed and he was clearly out of position and I jumped off my pivot foot and deposited an easy lay-up into the basket.  Amid the "oohs" and "aahs" of the rest of the guys on the floor (I wish I was just making that up but several actually told me later that it was an amazing looking play) I calmly started running back to set up on defense ... and as the guy turned down court I glanced back and loud enough for everyone to hear I asked him the title question from this very blog!  I couldn't resist ... and for once, he had nothing to say!

Wooooooo!

Editor's Note: Josh's team went on to win that game as well as the rematch game right after it, despite being down 8-2 in the first game and 12-4 in the second one.

What will JC blog about next ?

Here's a list of topics I am considering for future blogs ... if any one (or multiple) sound more interesting please vote and I'll be sure to write those sooner than later ... thanks!

Music Blogs:
 - Trends or favorites by year or by decade
 - Songs I like, by genre
 - One-hit wonders I just can't get enough of
 - Favorite CDs/Tapes (in their entirety)

Basketball:
 - "Fighting" stories
 - Scoring vs. Passing (as related to "young and quick" vs "older and slower")
 - Stetson Hills vs. Oakwood

High School Stuff:
 - Sports (quitting basketball team, why Track and Cross Country, etc.)
 - Card Club in the hallway
 - Breakfast of skittles and Welch's Grape Soda
 - LONG lunch periods (ditching 4th and 5th hours)
 - Cars (Babemobile, the Dodge Caravan, Case's Ark, the Trans-Am)
 - Quitting choir before the BIG concert (and being begged to come back)
 - Asking out Prom Dates (thanks for the flower but no thanks for the dance)

Driving Pet Peeves:
 - It's called a run-on lane for a reason!
 - Round-abouts are supposed to make traffic flow SMOOTHER!
 - Turn signals are a nice way to let other people know you are slowing down
 - The left lane is THE passing lane ... move over!
 - If you want to check out the accident, PULL OVER!

Movies:
 - Favorite animated movies
 - Favorite quotes from animated or live-action movies ... "You're killin' me Smalls!"
 - Romantic comedies that I'll watch over and over and over again
 - Stupid guy flicks that I'll watch over and over and over again
 - Cult Classics that I just love
 - List of movies that make me want my money back

Differences in Choirs (Stetson Hills vs Oakwood vs A Shade of Soul vs Spectrum)

Woodworking (projects I have done, why I love it, my ultimate but realistic woodshop plans for the shed)

Home Improvement projects I have done

Scouting ... memories from my youth ... differences between den leader and Cubmaster

Puzzles are so relaxing for me ... but don't try and help if all you do is "hover"

A history of Case Christmas letters (and ideas for the next two decades)

Family Halloween Ideas list (with 8 of us there's bound to be some great ones)

A history of my Hairstyles and why I wore it like that

A compilation of my various Halloween work costumes (including pictures if available)

Food:
 - favorite to eat
 - favorite to cook
 - things that will never pass these lips ... ever!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ever wish you had taken a closer peek ?

Today was a great day for many reasons ... lunch with a great friend, got lots done at work, fantastic game night with our game group from the Stetson Hills ward (we are so honored that they still let us play!)

But ... one experience is still lingering in my head and I can't shake the feeling of anxiety it is causing in the depths of my soul.

I don't consider myself an extremely curious person.  I am happy to know that others have secrets or information that they cannot or should not share with me.  I figure "When I need to know, I will be told." and that always seems to work for me.  But I am having a super hard time wondering about something that could have a big impact on my future.  (For those who are already assuming this has anything to do with the remote possibility of Karen being pregnant again ... stop it!  We are NOT expecting another child!)

Although I cannot go into the details (because then you wouldn't be in suspense along with me and that's not fair), I will say that the anxiety could totally have been avoided if I had just peeked a little longer!  I saw some information and the person I was talking to made a very specific comment about me that should have put my mind very much at ease (or even made my day depending on how you look at it).  But I didn't actually see my own name on this list so I would have to just 100% rely on the word of this person, who I do trust and have no reason to question ... but I just can't STAND IT!

So perhaps the next time I see this person I will just ask them straight out about the list and maybe then I can stop fretting so much ... errrr ... ummmm ... hope I can sleep tonight!  Sheesh!

Are you ready for some FOOTBALL?!

So it's that time of year again ... no, not football season ... FANTASY football season.


Every year I swear I am done wasting my time with this silly game ... and every year (at least for the past 4 years) I find myself invited or playing in at least 3 different leagues.  I even ran one for the past two years because my wife really got into it a few years back and wanted to play.

So tonight while watching some more of The Office (end of season 4 if you are following along at home) I received a text message from a good friend of mine from work (Marcos).  He was texting to see if I was interested in playing FF in his league (they needed one more person and I figure what the heck, why not!)

But I am NOT setting up a Yahoo league this year for my ... what's that? ... yes dear ... no sweetie ... yes we ... okay but we have to ... the first week of the season ... I know ... okay ... maybe tomorrow or Sunday ... I don't know ... my family might not want to ... well you can ask Bob ... and Dennis ... but I don't want to ... what's that? ... okay ... I promise. ... O-kay!  I promise!  Love you too ...

Dangit!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ever feel like you're just "going through the motions?"

Today ... no not just today ... much of this week has felt like that to me.  Not every part mind you, but much of the week has felt like just another day.

I am uncertain as to why and that's the part that bothers me.  Usually I'll have a day here and there which is like that, but it always wears off rather quicky and always has a reason behind it (lack of sleep, boring meetings at work, excessive school stuff for the kids, etc.)

I did compile a list today (which usually helps bring me back to the crazy fun life I lead) ... and it was a list of Blog topics I plan to expound on over the next months ... but ... it is sitting on my desk at work and so right now it provides no help.

I had two fillings and a crown-build-up done at the dentist this afternoon ... and it took almost 3 hours!  My lower lip wouldn't go numb, the doctor was already behind on a few other patients, one assistant completely forgot that she was working on me ... that did not help the blah blah blah mood ... but it wasn't the cause so I remain perplexed.

Karen has the first of two Scentsy parties tonight (the other is tomorrow evening) so I am watching all the kids (or rather just listening to them as they watch Suite Life on Deck via instant Netflix).  I have to say that instant Netflix has made us really not feel so lost since we've dropped all cable/Directv, etc.  I've been watching tons of The Office and there are countless comedy routines available anytime I need a laugh.  After the kids are in bed I think I'll just watch something that makes me laugh and see if that brings me out of the blahs.  If not, at least Karen won't have to sit through stand-up routines that she pretends to like but I know it is really not her thing.

Now that you've read this blog ...
don't you agree that I am just
"going through the motions" here too?!

:)

What did we ever do before Facebook?

Feel free to replace with Fantasy Football, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.

Seriously, my zoo is SOOOOO much better than this crap!
Oh that's right ... before Mafias and Farms and Zoos and IHearts and Passing Drinks and collecting Flair and playing Bejeweled Blitz or Family Feud or Zynga Poker ... we had real lives and interacted with real people and planted real gardens and read real books and decorated our real houses and did work at our real jobs and sent real gifts through the real mail system.

What a real waste of time that used to be!  :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So do you want some tickets?

Today was marked by two calls from two lovely women offering tickets to two different events that I (and at least some members of my family) would like to go to.

The first was the loveliest of all lovely ladies: my sweet wife Karen.  She was calling to inform me that she saw on another friend's Facebook page that they were selling AFA vs BYU football tickets for $5.  I was very excited and told her to get 5 tickets (will you be one of the lucky invitees?).  After some research she was able to get 5 tickets and so on September 11th (what a day for a game huh?  I bet the opening national anthem, etc. is going to be AWESOME!) @ 2:00pm my boys and I (along with two special guests) will get to see possibly the last football game between the Cougars (likely going independent in football) and the Falcons.

The second call was actually to Karen's cell phone but I answered 'cause it was our good friend Mindy who is lovely in her own right and just perfect for her husband Tony who is sadly away in Hawaii (no really it is sad) for work.  I love to pick on her by answering Karen's phone and saying "Karen's phone!"  It freaks her out because then she thinks she dialed my number but the deep voice says "Karen's Phone!" ... good times.  Anyway, it turns out that she just received 6 tickets to either Wednesday or Thursday night's Sky Sox (AAA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies) game.  She and her family can't go because they have swim lessons so she wanted to offer the tickets to us.  We have plans for Thursday and Friday night (and later I got a call from another friend and we'll be getting together with our "game night" friends on Saturday) ... but we had no set plans for tomorrow night.  So I graciously accepted the tickets and now we've got the rest of the week planned.  Yay!

Now if only someone would call and offer me the winning lottery ticket I'll have the trifecta of ticket victories!  Uh oh ... I just had a thought ... I better drive very carefully because my 3rd ticket might be for speeding.  :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Daddy, why are you hans all byack?"

For those who don't speak Catalina, here is a translation: "Daddy, why are your hands all black?"

This is the question my 3-year old posed to me as she helped mommy carry groceries (grapes that she nearly dropped because she was scared at the sight of my hands) into the house.  She also said to Grandpa Don when he offered her a hug "Don' git you byack on me!  I pwetty in my dwess!  See?!" (and then she twirled for us to watch how pretty she was without black messiness all over her).

My hands were all different shades of black and gray because I had spent the morning working on my car.  My baby Jazzmine.  I'll have to tell you about all her ailments another day, but today is for celebration because she is running fine again!  After way more work than we anticipated (isn't that ALWAYS the case?!) she is the opposite of Humpty Dumpty (we DID get her all back together again!)  If you're interested in the mostly full story read on, if not ... catch you tomorrow or something.  :)

Problem: The power steering pump seized, which snapped
the pulley (wheel) that holds the serpentine belt.
Solution #1: Remove the power steering pump & pulley from
the equation and just use a shorter serpentine belt.
Answer: Unacceptable as the belt will rub against itself without that pulley.
Solution #2: Install a pulley without a power steering pump for the serpentine belt.
Answer: Unacceptable as they do not make cars
without power steering any more.
Seriously we are so lazy in society now ...
that's why our forearms look nothing like Popeye.
Solution #3: Replace the power steering pump including pulley ...
which will also require a new power steering fluid reservior
(because I just threw the broken one away from my accident back in Oct 2009).
Answer: Acceptable solution ... but it's going to require a LOT of work
and a fun field trip to the Pull and Pay junkyard.

So now that the solution had been identified (this was last Thursday, with the Monday prior being the day we disproved the first two solutions), my father-in-law and I had the opportunity to enjoy a new experience together.  Neither of us have been to a junkyard for car parts, let alone to a Pull and Pay setup like we went to this morning.  As a totally non-knowlegeable car person (this blog may confuse you but I knew absolutely nothing about cars before this experience, and still know very little) I have to say the experience was really cool!
 - You pay $2 per person to go in and there are hundreds of cars propped up on old rims.
 - They have them inventoried by year, make, and model so they can tell you where in the massive yard to find your replacement parts.

I'll save the lengthy explanation and just say that we took parts (reservior, hoses, and cap to the reservior) from three different cars similar to mine in order to complete the system we needed to put power steering back in my car.  It was interesting to look at other "parts" and contemplate replacing my seats, etc. but that will just have to be another trip for another day.  All told we spent like $15 (Dad was quicker with 4 singles to get us in ... I need to remember to pay him back 'cause he drove too) and now had everything we needed to get my baby running again.

After a quick stop at an auto parts store to get a brand new serpentine belt (on the theory that replacing it would be better than waiting for it to break and then getting all dirty again) we came to my house and jumped right in.  To keep this brief I will simply say we demonstrated our lack of know-how related to cars by just doing things instead of assessing the proper order of the process.  We installed, took apart, installed again, removed pieces, shifted other pieces, removed whole portions of the unit, replaced other parts, installed again, jerry-rigged a few things ... and then finally screwed everything into place.  Once fluid was added (radiator, power steering, etc.) I started her up and she hummed beautifully.  A little more fluid to top her off and she could finally come down off her jack stands.

Clean up was a chore, but some Boraxo mixed with dishwashing soap gets everything but the under-the-nails gunk off.  Tomorrow morning I'll drive her off into the sunrise and hopefully she will live many more years (at least until Josh Jr, Ben and I can make her into a convertible like I did with my dad when I was 16 years old).

Some important Shout-Outs in the version of Thank You's
Thanks to Grandpa Don for ALL the hard work, driving time, and ingenuity that made it possible.
Thanks to Bill C from work for letting me hitch a ride many days over the past two weeks.
Thanks to Kipp and Andy @ Checker O'Reilly for helping us devise the solution (and for referring us to the Pull and Pay junkyard).
Thanks mostly to our Heavenly Father for watching over us "fools" so we didn't kill ourselves while working on something way above our knowledge-level.  Thanks for the brain-power/inspiration to work around the problems, and thanks for the strong (that's debatable) hands and inquisitive mind that physically got it all done ... eventually.  :)

Isn't it hard to remember all that stuff ?

It seems my life (and probably your life too) is filled with people who are angry at the world.  Well, not really the world, but basically everyone in it ... for one reason or another.  I wonder ... isn't it hard to remember all the little things that others have done to upset you over all the years of your life?  What a chore!  My head hurts just thinking about the nightmare associated with tracking those complaints about everyone you know.

You have to keep track of these grievances though, otherwise you might be naturally happy with all your blessings ... or you might treat someone nice that inadvertently purposefully (of course) was negligent of your very basic needs.  We wouldn't want that now would we?!

1st Corinthians chapter 13 talks extensively about Charity.  Perhaps I will commit it to memory so I can share it more freely with those around me who seem to always find (or remember) grievances they have against other people.  Verse 4 reads: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up," and verse 5 continues "Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;"  Those last two thoughts summarize the message I wish these people I know would recognize and apply to their lives.

I suppose it is a good thing that I am usually quick to forget things because it allows me to be unburdened by carrying all these grudges against all these people in my life.  Ultimately, they are really good people and almost guaranteed if they offended me it was completely unintentional.  I've only known two people in my life who were actually trying to offend me or cause me pain ... and I do not associate with either of them any more so that problem is solved (for me anyway ... for them I hope they find some help to overcome that bitterness).

I'm Sunday rambling now so I'll stop myself ... but one last thought.  I believe these individuals who are quick to anger against others likely have a deep down hurt which probably stems from a low self esteem.  If that is you and you are reading these words, please remember that you are a Child of God and your Father in Heaven will always love you.  You can do great things and be a great person even if you're imperfect (like the rest of us).  Just start with some simple charitable act towards anyone in your life and bask in the great feelings you will have from ignoring your needs just for a minute and focusing on others.  I know you can do it!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Why do I even bother?

This phrase could apply to so many things today but I'll try to keep it on the lighter side and just pick one example that is mostly humorous.

For those of you that do not live in Colorado Springs, it will be difficult for you to understand the humor without a brief history.  For those that live in Colorado Springs, please feel free to skip down past the next historical paragraph.

If you couldn't already tell:
 the top of the map is the Western side of Colorado Springs
and the snow-covered area is Pikes Peak
 this obviously makes the lower part of the map the Eastern Plains, as I refer to them below.
Historical Paragraph
Colorado Springs is located right in between the dry, dry, dry Eastern Plains of Colorado and the all-kinds-of-weather-generating Rocky Mountains (centered around Pikes Peak).  This particular location creates a very unique weather pattern (or at least it did for several years when I first moved back here after my mission to LA).  **The towering mountains create their own cloud systems on the West, while the Albuquerque Low (a pressure system that is almost always "active") generates a Chinook wind (I believe Chinook actually means "sucking wind") on the East.  The bottom line is that this unique geographical set-up creates very different weather throughout the day, but it typically follows the same pattern in the late Spring (May) through early Fall (October) months:
 - In the morning, the air is damp and temperatures are usually mild, but the skies are beautifully clear.
 - In the Noon hour, clouds begin forming over the Peak and winds begin blowing toward the plains.
 - In the early afternoon, the clouds are sucked out over the city and ... it rains.
Maybe I should repeat that with the emphasis it deserves:
it RAINS!  HARD!  REALLY HARD!
Now the showers torrential downpour only lasts for 30-90 minutes but it has an effect:
 - Temperatures drop 10-20 degrees (from the 80's and 90's down to the 60's and 70's ... nice!)
 - Trees, grasses, and weeds (boo!) get some needed moisture
 - In the evening, the sun is out again in full force and everyone dries out very quickly (this happens in the wintertime too and it is why we never keep snow around here for very long).
**I am NOT a weatherman, but I play one in front of my kids' TV.

So after the "history lesson" here's the application for today's blog.  It doesn't always happen that way.  Sometimes we get no clouds and thus no rain ... and so we have to run the sprinkler system (both for the grass but also to cool ourselves down 'cause the wind is a hot wind at 90 degrees).  I will accept no comments from the "living-in-humid-places" peanut gallery ... you're not here so don't tell me it's not hot unless you're coming out to visit!  That would be nice ... we'd love to see you!  :)

Anyway, when the clouds don't come, those of us who are trying to conserve water have to play chicken with the weather.  Do I run the sprinklers so my grass doesn't die?  Or are the clouds just going to come in the night like they sometimes do?  It's like the Phineas and Ferb song "Sittin' and Waitin' and Watchin'" ... just wondering if anything is going to happen.

Today ... the grass looked sad.  There were NO clouds on the horizon at all!  The wind was mild.  So I ran the sprinklers for the first time in almost a month!  A few hours passed and all of a sudden you could just hear it in the wind.  It was too dark to see of course but those lazy clouds had finally formed and decided to grace us with their moisture.  I hated those clouds.  They mocked me mercilessly.  We have a love/hate relationship now but maybe it's my fault for not appreciating them enough this past month.  I will just have to try harder.

Keep on rockin' my cloud buddies!
A little freaky aren't they?!

I don't know, what do YOU want to do?

This is probably my least favorite question to hear.  It's not even funny anymore.  I ask it just as often as I am asked.  This is a problem.  I used to be able to pick things.  I believe my wife was able to do so at one time as well.  But I blame the kids ... they have removed our ability to decide on anything because they always have a way to look at us and say "I knew you were going to pick that.  I don't want to do that."  It could be a decision like "ice cream for dinner" or "sleepovers with your friends" or "stay up however late you want watching movies" and they will find something better that we should have picked.

Is it wrong to be looking forward (I mean really REALLY looking forward) to the days of an empty nest?!  Yeah, you're probably right ... I'll just "enjoy it while it lasts."  *sigh*

So ... um ... I was ... wondering ... what do YOU want to do?  :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why do you choose to make excuses?!

***Apologies in advance.  If you are looking for funny material or something about me then this is not the blog you want to read.  I am about to vent so please feel free to skip this one and maybe tomorrow it'll be some happy stuff again ... I hope it can be. ***

Many of you know that I am a Supervisor of a team of representatives for Progressive Insurance in our Colorado Springs call center.  I almost always love my job.  The people I work with (in almost all titles and positions) are really great.  So why do some people always try to ruin it by looking for the negative or by making excuses for everything instead of just taking responsibility for their own inadequacies?!

I will not get into specifics so as to protect the innocent (including me from any sort of "on-line" guidelines I may not fully understand).  But I just have to vent somewhere, even though I know the main offender will NEVER read this blog and I'll have to just give them feedback in person ... if I can tolerate the excuses long enough to get my point across.

I prefer to follow the teachings of my father, who often quoted Joseph Smith's counsel to "teach correct principles and let people govern themselves."  I believe this allows for minimal hands-on management (or as many refer to it "micro-management.")  The problem is ... it requires those being led to take ownership of their OWN actions and actually utilize some of those "correct principles."

To be VERY clear ... most of the people I work with actually do get this!  I have been able for years now to lead a variety of reps in our team (I also espouse the team as being a group I am a part of and not that it is "my" team).  Almost all have recognized the flexibility that I try to create by allowing individuals to be creative in how they achieve the business goals we have before us.  I do not ignore the issues (if someone is getting good results through unscrupulous practices I will most definitely call them on it).  But I also try very hard not to dictate what and when and how things should be done.  I probably fail some in that area, but it is often because I am trying to provide ideas to someone who refuses to generate solutions and only finds problems.

This brings us to my venting for the day.  I have one person I work with who has come up with excuses for their performance EVERY SINGLE TIME an issue has been brought to their attention.  And today was the last straw for me.  I literally had to avoid a conversation with this person because they were pushing ALL my buttons.  (I am trying carefully not to say "he" or "she" to further protect anonymity.)  The job this person is in has some complexity to it ... but no where near the level this person seems to make it out to be.  And if it really is that complex for you ... why are you still working this same job?!  It's too hard.  I can't do it.  This isn't what I like.  You're asking the impossible.  I am seriously willing to take bets on when he/she will say "My hair hurts so I can't take calls today."

I believe in treating people like adults.  But when you choose to act like a child by:
 - blaming others and making excuses
 - changing your story and by changing the subject
 - asking for help without having any ideas on how I can possibly help you
then I have no choice but to treat you as a child and be the micro-managing "adult" in the relationship.  There is no other option when your kid starts kicking and screaming in the grocery store about not getting the cereal they want.  You just have to take them out of the store and not reward their poor choice of behavior.  It is a sad commentary on society that adult-aged people in the workforce choose to kick and scream about not getting their snack before bedtime.  You didn't do your chores or your homework!  Why on EARTH do you think you should get a snack?!  It is called EARNING a living for a REASON!!!!  It implies that you use that thing in your skull for problem solving and solution creating ... and to be clear, blaming others is NOT a "solution."

From the Ok Go video for
"This Too Shall Pass"
Anyway, thanks for listening ... sorry for the boring and angry entry.  I feel better now and can get some sleep tonight that will hopefully fill me with the courage and energy I need to face this sort of thing tomorrow and beyond.  As the group Ok Go sings in their song "This too shall pass."  And there are actually two cool videos of that song on YouTube so if you read this far you can reward yourself by checking them out ... and you can also watch there "Here it goes again" video where they do the treadmill dancing that you've probably heard about.  Maybe reading this far wasn't too much of a waste of your time after all.

Good night!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Can you see yourself in EVERY Dilbert comic?

Well I can ... here is my favorite example that sums up my day today:

Why do they make 1% Chocolate Milk?!

Short blog tonight ... but that's my question ... why do they make 1% Chocolate milk water?!

I love chocolate milk.  I love milk as it is but when you add chocolate there is just something even better (except with pancakes .. trust me, Ben tried it one time and was not too happy with the results).  It is like eating steak wrapped in bacon.  Or when you put just a little sugar inside your strawberry before popping it into your mouth.  Now I'm getting hungry too ... grrrr.

So I return to my original query: why on earth would anyone ever consider adding chocolate flavoring to 1% milk water?!  I mean, we all know that 1% milk water isn't really milk at all ... it's water that they put some milk in to try and convince you that you're drinking milk.  But don't be fooled.  It's NOT MILK !!!  And just for the sake of argument this next sentence assumes that on some crazy planet that white-colored 1% water is considered milk ... if you're drinking 1% milk, it is likely because you should be laying off things that might make you gain weight (apologies if there is some other medical condition I am demonstrating insensitivity toward) ... don't ya think the chocolate syrup or flavoring is on that short list of things you should probably avoid too?!  Not to mention the bacon-wrapped steak and sugar filled strawberries.

I am just venting because Sams has starting carrying only 1% chocolate milk water and so now we have to get the "acceptable" 2% variety from another store instead of just getting all our milk in one place.

And when did they stop pre-mixing Whole Chocolate Milk?!  Let's get out and exercise people so I can enjoy a huge glass of the really good stuff without having to spend time mixing it myself (because we all know it tastes better when someone does it for you).  Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What is WRONG with you?!

That's right!  I ask the IMPORTANT questions here in this blog.  All the ones that everyone else just skirts around because they're afraid of what they will find!

Actually, my kids will tell you that I ask them this question quite often ... but it's not like you think.  Rather it is somewhat of a game we play when we're all feeling a little silly.  Invariably one of the kids will try to pull me out of a chair or push me off the couch or even try to take my phone or my wallet ... I will give my meanest glare (which never seems to put any fear into them at all ... they just see right through it) and then I will pop this question ... and they LAUGH!

It was such a good joke for a while there that even when Josh Jr turned the tables and asked "What is wrong with YOU dad?!" we all just cracked up.

But I fear there is something seriously wrong with my wife ... and Brooklyn too.  I hesitate to share this but I need your advice on what to do.  Is there a 12-step program?  Probably not for this 'cause there should really be only one step: Stop Doing It!  Do they have success stories of people who have kicked the habit?  "I'm clean now but my life was a real mess there for a while.  It got so bad that I would steal from the elephants or people at baseball games."  Maybe they are not as hooked as it appeared tonight.  In any case, I love them both and will support them through this trying time.

You see ... they (oh it's just too horrible!) ... they eat peanuts ... that are still inside the shell!  Just whole!  It's just nuts I tell you!  Except not for them ... for them it's nuts and shells.

Please help!  Brooklyn has such a bright future and Karen has so much to live for!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Who wears the pants in your family?

Okay ... so this blog is about laundry.  Don't get confused by the title.  This has nothing to do with whether or not Karen is the real "head" of this family (she and I argue more about not wanting to be the "adult" than we ever would about being in charge).

I do ALL the laundry in this house!

You might think this is me bragging more about how awesome I am, but I'm really not (not bragging ... the awesome part is totally true!)

Here's how it all went/goes down:
Although it was never an official "let's chat about it and hammer out a contract so there are some boundaries in this marriage" kind of thing.  There were many conversations mind you, just nothing written or even remotely as official as say, naming a child.  I hate cleaning bathrooms.  Karen would tell you she hates it too, but there is a smile on her face after they are clean.  That smile NEVER happens on my face after washing sinks, toilets, showers, mirrors, etc.  I could blame my mom for this but she actually taught me quite well how to properly clean a bathroom and I sincerely thank her for that.

(Where is this guy headed?!  I swear he jumps from subject to subject ... maybe if he read his blogs before posting he would realize that it's like a train wreck that can never happen because the trains aren't headed in the same direction ... and besides, one of them is a boat and the other is a helicopter).

Anyway, Karen hates laundry.  Well that's a bit of a stretch because I don't think she could actually ever really hate anything but early on in our marriage (well at least the part after kids so maybe it was more like 7-8 years into it) I can recall seeing Karen's frustration with feeling that she was always doing laundry.  Being a man (not trying to be sexist but we fit stereotypes pretty nicely most of the time) I quickly devised a solution: I outlined how Karen could do all the laundry on one day and if she was diligent about responding to the buzzer sounds for the washer and dryer, she could only be upset one day a week.  (What a gentleman!)

I cannot recall how it evolved from there but I am pretty sure I kept hearing frustration from Karen (to be fair, this was warranted even if it did occur, which is highly unlikely and probably just made up) and I was also frustrated because she wasn't sticking to the laundry schedule.  She would stop to make lunch or clean the bathrooms ... you know, get "distracted" and then the laundry wouldn't be finished by the time kids needed to head to bed.  So I took over ... and I haven't relinquished control ever since.

Late Sunday into early Monday is my Laundry Day* and everyone in this house knows what that means: I take my laundry seriously!
 - You better have your socks and jeans and whatever else you want clean in the laundry baskets by the time dad comes calling on Sunday afternoon.  Not even Karen is exempt (she would begrudgingly agree that I have left her jeans, etc. unwashed for an extra week to "set an example" for the kids).
 - You better collect your hangers to a single location in the closet.
 - You better know that when you get home from school on Mondays that you have clothes that need to make it from the half-wall near the stairs into the appropriate drawer or shelf.
 - You can expect clean t-shirts and nicely folded unmentionables.
 - You can also expect that if you forgot to include a sock for this week's load (Ben is the most common culprit) it's mate will be relegated to the "Matchless Sock Drawer" until the following week.
Be sure to ask my kids about the "Homey the Clown" styled sock thumper I made from about 40 unmatched socks.
*Astute fans of mine (and of Jason Mraz's music) will catch the reference to the song "Geek In The Pink" but you have to listen to the album version to catch the fun humor about "What time is it?!"

Call me what you will.  Judge me as harsh as you like.  I don't care.  But I guarantee ... wait, that's the buzzer ... just a minute.  Okay, what was I saying?  Oh yeah ... despite 6 kids and two adults worth of laundry, I complete EVERY LOAD EVERY WEEK without a single murmuring word ... but that's mainly because then Karen can't really guilt me into doing bathrooms ever again.  :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

How do you know when you've "made it" ?

This afternevening (say it a few times and you'll be hooked I swear!) my beautiful wife and I went to visit 6 more houses on the 2010 Parade of Homes list. They ranged in size from 1300+ square feet up to over 4000 square feet ... and in price from the mid $150s up to over $500,000 (that's "half a mill" for my boyz N da hood).
Two words: Yawn fest.
I was so disappointed at what I saw. Sure each house had some cool decorations and room designs that are nice to see and steal ideas from, but what a waste of money and space across the board!
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This has left me with only two possible conclusions:
#1. I am getting old and crotchety, longing for the good ol' days when "we lived in a one-bedroom log cabin with dirt floors and holes in the walls that always let the bitter wind and summer bugs come whipping through ... and we LIKED it! "
#2. I have actually fallen completely in love with our current home and it may, in fact, be about the closest to my real life dream home I could ever imagine (or at least the price was right and it's very functional and spacious ... until the kids are teenagers and then I'll have to pray for missions and college and marriage to drag them away from my little blue heaven).
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The evening was far from a total waste though as I was able to spend several hours with just Karen (thanks Grandma Julie for watching ALL 6 kids!) and that is always such a pleasure. I still wonder more often than anything else that puzzles me ... why on earth did she fall so hard for li'l ol' me?! No matter ... I married her for time and all eternity and now she can't back out! Sweet! :)
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**Oh and to answer my blog post title question: I think you know you have made it when you are so satisfied with everything you have that you could not possibly imagine wanting anything more ... because you already have it ALL! If that is true then I surely have "made it" because between Karen (I love you Pretty Lady!), my kids, the Gospel, etc. etc. I have everything I ever could possibly need in this life or the life to come!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Where have you been man?!

Loyal fan(s) ... I took a sabbatical from writing because it has been a very busy week (yeah, right ... you were just out of subjects to blog about ... and besides, we're ALL busy. You seriously think it's just you who has "stuff" to do?! How aloof and conceited!)

Here's a recap (oh great, a travelogue ... zzzzzzzz ... bore-fest):
Saturday, 8/7
- I went to work early in anticipation of leaving early so that I could take my sons and my brother-in-law and nephew to Broncos open practice @ Invesco Field. Long story short, we went. Bob and I had a blast. The boys not so much. And then ... on the ride home ... Jazzmine (my car) kinda died. So at 9:30pm with no flashlight on the side of I-25 we sat waiting for my wonderful parents to come and tow us home. They had a flat tire so it took even longer (what horrible luck for them, I felt so bad). More on my car later.

Sunday, 8/8
- Grandpa Don was speaking in Sacrament Meeting so we all schlepped over to the Stake Center (Meadowland Building) and it was a very good meeting. There was a young woman that played a beautiful piano solo and it brought a very strong spirit in before Dad's talk about Temple attendance. It took forever to get out of there so we never made it to our ward.
- Once home I was able to spend the early afternoon working with my sweet (and sexy) wife to make her birthday cake (more of a dessert than a cake but whatever). We tried a new recipe using chocolate pudding instead of vanilla and apparently it was very yummy.
- Almost every family member came for Karen's Birthday Party around 7pm and then her sister Jodie stayed much later to watch some Leverage episodes (while Karen fell asleep). :)

Monday, 8/9 -- a.k.a. Karen's Actual Birthday
- I should mention here that I never went to sleep Sunday night. Myra was wide awake and when she finally went down around 4:00am I decided it was too late to sleep at all if we were going to get all the things done for Karen's birthday. This may have been a terrible idea. History will have to prove or disprove it.
- I'll let Karen blog (maybe she already did, I haven't had time to read much this past week either) about the whole day but here's a list of activities:
- Breakfast @ McDs - Parade of Homes with 3 kids -
- Lunch @ New Panda (Chinese) - Parade of Homes with 1 kid -
- Happy Hour drinks @ Sonic -
- Drop off kids @ Grandma's (thanks again Grandma Julie!) -
- Dinner @ Red Lobster - Watched episodes of the Office and Psych -

Tuesday, 8/10
- Blended Excellence day @ work. Was a mad rush to keep things moving to reward our great reps and deliver prizes. Then out early to go to Back to School (a.k.a. Meet the Teachers) night @ Ridgeview Elementary. Since we have 5 kids going to school there and they only had 3 sessions, Karen and I had to divide and conquer. I covered the boys classes in sessions 1 and 2 while Karen went to Brooklyn's class and then the Preschool session. We met in the gym for the final session (we held hands and got out early so it was great! Brilliant idea sweetie!)
- After a quick bite to eat (thanks for treating Pretty Lady!) my father-in-law brought me back home while Karen tended to the kids @ grandma's house (thanks Grandma Penny!) and we worked on my car.
- Shortly before 9:00pm my dad-in-law (thanks again Don!) brought me to the Stake Center so I could open the gym for basketball. 4 guys showed up ... and these are not the guys who will agree to play 2-on-2. So I grabbed a ride home (thanks Jeff!) and it was quickly bedtime.

Wednesday, 8/11
- Karen dropped me off for work and it was a relatively normal day.
- I coerced my buddy Bill (thanks man!) into giving me a ride home and through a miscommunication we agreed to leave very early (around 2:30pm) because he thought it was my early day. That's cool because then my father-in-law came over and we got much deeper into trouble working on my car.
- Karen and the kids went to the swimming pool (VGRA) and stayed very late to watch Finding Nemo on a projector for family swim. Karen said it was cool. A little sorry I missed that.

Thursday, 8/12
- Short day for work but I stayed longer because it was our Diversity and Inclusion Art Show Event. I helped with set-up and drink-making, etc. because I was not going to be able to "work" the event due to meetings, etc. It was very cool to hear some acoustic guitar players and singers (nice work Ryan "Sizzle Pizzle" and friends!) and the lemonade I made was excellent! :)
- Had a dentist appointment in the afternoon and that's just a whole 'nother blog. But I was there almost as long as I was at work ... for a cleaning! Nice office but almost 3 hours for a visit?! Are you kidding me?! Shoulda gone ahead and done the paraffin wax (huh?!)
- Karen and I kinda fell asleep (TMI Josh!) ... in separate chairs in the family room ... and Josh Jr tried to make dinner. He did good but he mixed milk with the eggs (normally good, but not if you're making Egg Burritos). I stumbled up to help and then after dinner Karen went to her pool board meeting while I watched the kids.
- I was talking with my neighbor and got some very good news (the only good news all week) about my car. He (Chad, of "Chad and Amanda and Ian" fame) is a machinist by trade and is pretty sure he can make me whatever part I need. I hesitated to just say "Let's do it!" but thanked him for the offer and plan to take him up on it if we cannot find the right piece(s) this weekend (see: Monday).
- I then selfishly watched several episodes of the Office until Karen was very asleep. Some seriously good episodes and my absolute favorite by far (literally laughing so hard many times during the episode that I had to pause the show and go back to watch what I'd missed when I stopped breathing).

Friday the 13th ... (cue the scary music)
- I was able to hitch a ride with Bill again (to and from work today ... thanks man!) but the rest of the day @ work is somewhat of a blur. Shadowed with one of my reps Gary, who brought me some peaches from his tree(s) ... really cool of him to do so ... I will enjoy them probably tomorrow morning.
- Tonight we're headed to Mindy's house (of Mindy and Tony and Ashleigh and Malyssa and Matthew fame) so I can edge her yard and maybe we'll play some games.

Whew ... okay, so now you're caught up for the week that wasn't blogged about. Don't you feel better just skipping this one blog instead of having to skip 7 of them?!
You're welcome my loyal fan(s) ... you ... are ... welcome! :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Is that true Daddy?

This post is about my beautiful, sweet, innocent (or so I thought) almost 7-year old daughter Brooklyn Rose Case. Or at least that's her name for now.

I've had many great "conversations" with my daughter that every father should have. We have talked about boys (they are gross even if they are cute sometimes), and older boys (she flirts with ALL the lifeguards at the VGRA pool), and future boys (she is not allowed to date until she is 23 and can be married at 24 ... I think that is reasonable but she told me tonight that Karen said she could date when she is 16 ... but I am getting ahead of myself).

"Ben (our almost 9-year old) said that when you're 18 your parents aren't in charge of you anymore, is that TRUE Daddy?"

This seemingly simple question started the LONGEST excuse not to go to bed in the history of mankind. Of course that's my fault because I had to play around with it. You see, when Brooklyn gets in a slap-happy mood her laughter is just infectious and I ride the wave that balances precariously between her getting bored (a challenge she has not yet met) and her throwing up just a little bit in her mouth (a challenge that unfortunately has come to fruition on a few occasions). Tonight, I stopped the ride just barely before the latter happened (when you are a finely tuned craftsman such as my humble self you learn that the rapid hiccups are the last manifestation before what I like to call a "snack-coming-back attack.")

Like Captain Moroni in the war against Zarahemna (from the popular seminary video that you CAN YouTube and watch whenever you like) "I cannot recall the words which I have spoken." But the gist of it was that I convinced Brooklyn that she will be marrying either Dennis Newbie (a kid in her Primary class) or Jensen Brown (Ben's good friend from our prior ward). This led to a discussion of how she could change her name to sound way cooler when she becomes a rock star (side note: Brooklyn is going to be a rock star when she grows up and so tonight I announced her name in a booming voice and she swiftly corrected me by saying "I'm going to change my name when I become a rock star" ... when asked "to what?" she could not say but claimed that she liked the name Ashley). Anyway, I suggested that Dennis would be a better husband if only because then she could take his last name and change her first name to Ruby. She said "Ruby Newbie?! That's silly!" And I said "It rhymes like Hannah Montana" and she looked at me like I was crazy. "Hannah Montana does not rhyme dad!" And so I made her say it again and again until she says "Oh ... I get it now." And then the laughter returned.

Perhaps Karen will recall more of the conversation and share it in her blog post, but I was very caught up in the moment and it is late, but it was very funny. Almost as good as the time I had Brooklyn convinced that she was a half-alien (I'm all alien and her mommy is just a normal human) and that she will eventually be able to control people with her mind (this is partially true, especially when she becomes a full grown woman) ... but that is another story for another blog ... I love you Princess Brooklyn (even if you do change your name when you are 18 and a big ol' rock star!)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Why haven't I seen THIS movie sooner?!

Wow! What a ride! I'll have to check with my all-knowing brother Jeremy on this one but I just loved the film!

I fell in love with the "secret love song" (Come What May) many years ago when I heard it on the soundtrack CD my brother-in-law had. Just a darn good song and two great singers (well okay, NK was not great but Ewan has some impressive sound!)

Until tonight I had never gotten around to watching the film, but after last night's debacle (that my beautiful wife made me sit through) I had to give the film industry a chance at redemption. We can at least be friends again Hollywood.

My favorite part of the movie (besides the love song of course) was all the songs that were worked into the movie. So creative to fit so many songs in with homages to great entertainers of almost all ages. Karen didn't know all of them but I caught every ... single ... one. And laughed as they continued speaking as though it wasn't about to be a song.

Secretly my goal will be to get Karen to learn NK's part of the song and perhaps we can do a duet at our 20th wedding anniversary ... eh, she probably would rather do "Willow" quotes. :) Just kidding Pretty Lady ... but I will always love you Come What May!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why did I watch this movie AGAIN ?!

Instead of hearing "Willow, you idiot" (when he turned Raziel into a goat) I heard "Josh you idiot! The movie was pretty stupid the first time back in the late 80s ... you thought it would be better now?! you IDIOT!"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where did the summer go?!

Seriously! The kids start school tomorrow. Josh Jr and Brooklyn are back to Rideview Elementary in the morning (kinda funny that Ben who is in between those two never went to Ridgeview).

I gave them each a Father's Blessing for the upcoming school year. Savannah and Catalina don't start preschool until next Monday so their blessings were saved for Sunday night. I guess their summer vacation doesn't end for another few days ... but then is it really a summer vacation if you've never gone to school before?

Anyway, I had this list of projects I was going to get done this summer. It started great at the end of May until June. Then my second list was done in June before Myra was born. Then my third list was completed during my time off during Myra's first weeks at home. The July list really never took off (I blame the heat and swimming). And my August list is not likely to see much progress (the motivation is just ... not ... there.)

So there it is ... the lamest most non-sensical (arguably) post I have written. I blame my laziness on two hours of mediocre basketball. My game was fine but sometimes I wonder why some of the guys come out to play. Exercise? Then you would think they would at least move around. To hang out? Then you would think they would sit on the stage and cheer those of us who came to PLAY on. Defense? Clearly no. Offense? Ha! So why then? Not sure but my team had a few and it makes it a lot less fun. But I think I'm just getting older and grumpier.

Anyway, sorry there are no real laughs in this one. I promise to do more with it tomorrow ... I think we're going to do family swim at the VGRA pool. They are playing Finding Nemo in the pavilion so that might be really enjoyable.

Good night world! Sleep well and wake up happy! :)