Monday, January 31, 2011

What is the Most Annoying Sound in the world ?

You might think it is THE NOISE that Lloyd (Jim Carrey's character) makes in the movie "Dumb and Dumber" ... but you'd be wrong.
(Click "the noise" above for the audio of that ... if you need it).



Last night (and into this morning) I found out the actual answer to that question ...

THE most annoying sound in the world is ...
a Smoke Detector with a low battery!

Feel free to disagree, but just know this:  You are wrong!

Here are my arguments:
 - First, it's not a constant sound that you can drown out with another noise.  It is just ... every one ... to two ... to three ... minutes.  I honestly think there is a little smoke detector gremlin in there watching me and he/she makes it beep at random intervals just to mess with me.  I hate him/her but more on that later.
 - Second, it is LOUD!  No matter where you are, no matter what kind of earplugs you are wearing, no matter if you wrapped a very think towel around it ... you CANNOT not hear it when it beeps!  And the chirp that it makes has to be irritating, otherwise people would ignore it and their houses would burn down.
 - Third, it cannot be reset or stopped without a replacement battery (which I never seem to be able to find even though I swear we have as many batteries as Radio Shack at any given point).  Can't there just be a 24-hour "snooze" button or something?!  Some waiver I can sign that promises I won't start any fires in the house until it is fixed?!
 - And last but not least, when it IS time to replace the battery, GOOD LUCK figuring out which of your 1,000 different detectors is actually the one with a low battery.  Remember those gremlins in the detector I mentioned before?  This is where they get downright cruel!  I think there was a recent episode of Modern Family where the dad spends a whole day trying to find the right battery to replace.  It's even worse than they depicted it.

Suffice it to say that this afternoon when Karen returned from shopping, I finally had a replacement 9-volt battery ... and I found the struggling detector.  After a brief, but quite challenging, battle with the little gremlin (I won by licking the battery and shocking the $#!+ out of him!) ... I restored the power to the detector in the little girls' room.

Oh what sweet relief it was when the beeping was finally over!  Now I can sleep so much better tonight!  :)

...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Remember this movie ?

Karen and I signed up for Netflix some time ago and have really enjoyed using the "instant" netflix option on our Wii game system.  At the same time, we still get a DVD in the mail every few days and usually those are either recent movies that we've wanted to see or old favorites that we've never bought.

On Thursday, Spaceballs came in the mail.

At first when I saw the title I rolled my eyes and thought "really?!"  But then last night we watched it and I forgot how funny it is (outside of the very crude parts, which I had also forgotten about).

My favorite part is anything that makes Karen laugh, which happened a few times, but most notably when Lord Helmet, Colonel Sanders, and another crew member are watching the movie during the movie so they can fast forward to see where the Princess is hiding.  "Wait, go back!"  "Too when?"  "To then!"  "Then is now sir."  "Well then can we get back to now?"  "No sir, we just missed it."

I love Karen's laughter and it has to be one of my top five favorite things about her.  So no matter what movies or TV shows we watch, as long as Karen is laughing you can bet that I am having a great time!  :)

...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Was it really slow or is this just much faster ?

Today at work, my computer was swapped out.  The IT lady seemed very frustrated that someone was actually sitting at a desk where she planned to swap out a computer.  Silly me.  I should not have believed the SIX e-mails I got that indicated all along the way in this process that has taken almost THREE weeks that the IT rep would contact me prior to the replacement to "coordinate the actual time and date."

I digress.

After I politely shut my whole system down (in the middle of some rather detailed spreadsheet work) and she swapped out the hard drive ... and keyboard and mouse (score!) ... I was able to log back in to my "NEW" computer.

Wow.

I should have said thank you.  Loudly!

(For those preparing themselves for a hilarious tale about how my "NEW" computer isn't any better ... just stop reading now ... there is absolutely NO sarcasm in the above comments!)


Believe it or not, this is the NEW one!

I am uncertain how long I have had my "old" hard drive, but it occurred to me today that it has to be at least 6 years.  I know this because I have never had my computer swapped as long as I have been a Supervisor (4 1/2 years) and I also know it was upgraded when I was still an "Onboarding Coach" (which was about 1 1/2 years prior to my promotion to Supervisor.

To be fair, I know I have had occassional memory added and the software on the system has been reinstalled/upgraded on a regular basis.  But I had NO IDEA that it would make such a huge difference in the speed at which things loaded and I was able to save documents, open spreadsheets, etc.


Isn't this a SUPER fancy chart ?!

I'm sure this makes the computer geeks (I mean that with great respect!) out there laugh at my stupidity ... fine!  Laugh away!  While you're laughing I just sent 100 e-mails and created all kinds of useless, but very fancy looking, charts and graphs from data I just made up!

I can't believe how much it actually made my day at work so much better ... and I realized that I had not really noticed how slow my old computer was.  I guess maybe it's time to consider an upgrade on the old home computer.
Maybe then these blogs won't take forever!  :)

...

Friday, January 28, 2011

What exactly DID you expect?

My wife's e-mail account at home always has "Top Stories" on the front page.  Today's post included the following article about Taco Bell fighting back against reports that their taco meat isn't really "beef" and is instead some complex mix of assorted things made to taste like meat.

So I have to wonder ... exactly WHO in their right mind, goes to a fast food place, especially one with such inexpensive menu items like Taco Bell, and actually EXPECTS some extremely high-quality filling on their .79 cent soft-shell taco ?!

Did you think you were at the Broadmoor drive-thru?  Did the menu confuse you and you thought those prices were all in "hundreds"?  Was the fact that your meal was handed to you through a window that slides - OR - the fact that your food was placed in the only plastic bags that are thinner than those given at Wal-Mart NOT tip you off to the lower-quality likelihood of the food contained within?!

Perhaps they should put signs on the coffee mugs reminding you that the contents inside are HOT and you could burn yourself if you spill it all over your lap.  What's that?  Oh right ... they already DO THAT for the idiots that have forgotten that ... altogether now ...

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR !!!

...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How do YOU type ?

Many years ago, my mother did all my typing for me.  In school when a report was due or if I needed to write a talk for church, etc. there was my mom saying "Just dictate it and I'll type it up for you."

She was a fantastic stenographer for me in those days, and did her fair share of editing that made me sound much smarter than I was (even smarter than I am today probably!)  Thanks mom!  You rock!

One thing that amazed me was the speed at which she typed.  I am no slow talker by any means.  And it only gets worse when I'm trying to outline something that needs to be written.  If you could hear the random trains leaving my thought station while I blog each day you would no doubt be sidetracked and get caught on a thought train that will never reach a destination and likely never return to the station from whence it came.  In fact if you're still reading this paragraph you're already on one !!!

My father was no slouch when it came to typing either, but he was always quicker on a Sears computer running numbers or perusing data from some sales report.  Kudos dad ... life skills man, life skills!

Both of my parents learned to type on an actual typewriter, so their fingers are still ingrained with the memory of pushing hard, very specifically, and ONLY in designated areas.  I think every once in a while you can still catch my mom reaching up to smack the return bar (I have no idea what the real name of it is but it's the thing that rings and then you have to push it all the way back over before you can begin typing on the next line).  By the way, that little journey was another lost thought train.  Sorry, but think of all the rewards miles you're racking up!

I ... am a hunt-and-peck typist.  I ... only use my index fingers and thumbs on both hands.  On occasion my pinkie finger (only on the right hand) will jump in the fray, but he has to be super quick or the other fingers will stare at him with such disdain that he runs all the way home shouting "Wheeee-wheeee" (or was that the little piggie?!)  Yup ... you just wasted some more time on another train of thought headed to nowheresville.

I also ... would be unable to type if there were no letters on the keyboard.  One of my co-workers switched a few letters on my keyboard as a joke once.
It wasn't funny.
Everyone got e-mails from me with completely incomprehensible words (because where the T used to be was now a Q and the J had been swapped with the F).  The sad thing is, I had to ask him to put the keys back in the right places because I had no idea where they were supposed to be.

Despite these "issues" ... I am still quite a fast typist.  No where near my mom's 1,000 words per second (or whatever is a really good but not impossible number).  The funny thing is, I still put my hands on the keyboard the way you are properly supposed to.  To the casual observer, you'd likely never even notice that I am only using a few fingers and one big fat thumb on the space bar.

Another co-worker at work was impressed with my typing prowess and happened to be sitting at my desk one day.  About halfway through a note I needed to send before we could "catch up," she startled me by saying quite loudly if I may say so "What are you doing?!"  I panicked for a moment and then asked what she meant.  She said "You're just using like three fingers to type.  How on earth are you that fast?  Why do you even put your hands on the keyboard?  Are you even looking at the keys?" ... and on and ON.

Turns out I am not actually confined to looking at the keyboard.  I still do most of the time, but have since that interaction I often notice that I haven't looked at the keys in quite a while.  Then my brain freaks out and says "Hey you idiot ... you better look at the keyboard or you're going to type something wrong!"  I wish my brain didn't think I was an idiot, but what are ya gonna do?!  That thought train should just crash into a mountain and end in a fiery explosion.  BOOM!

So next time you see me and we're near a computer and you need a good laugh ... ask me to type something and then you can be amazed and depressed (yes that is the word I want to use ... not IMpressed, DEpressed) at my ridiculous typing style.  I might even show you my retired thought trains ... I have quite a collection of them.  :)

...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ever hear of this guy ?


His name is Jimmer Fredette ... and if you don't know him by now then you must not watch sports or own a TV or have a man (sorry to be sexist) in your life that fits either of those two categories.

Dude scores 43 points (out of his team's 71 points)
against a team that was ranked 4th in the nation in college basketball.
And they KNEW he was THAT good ...
and they STILL couldn't stop him !!!

Go Cougars!  Go Jimmer!

Ain't it fun to be a fan of basketball!

...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When Did THIS Happen ?

Tonight my mom and dad "popped by" our house before they head out on a vacation, of sorts, to Florida.  They wanted to see the grandkids and drop of some perishable food items (for the record Mom, chips and gum are NOT perishable!) along with another "thing."

This other "thing" was to drop off some paperwork for Karen and I to sign.
No big deal, right?!

This paperwork is only their Last Will and Testament along with a Power of Attorney and some other papers that will make me the official Executor of their estate ... blah, blah, blah.

NO, not blah, blah, blah ... I seriously am freaking out!  What on earth made them decide to finally get this paperwork all in order?  And also important, exactly when did I become the child that they designate to handle all their affairs when their time on this earth is done?!

To clarify, I am not upset about this.  I am honored!  But I am also a little worried that they are planning to fake their own deaths in Florida and retire to some community down there with secret identities and no ties to the real world.  Okay ... I don't really believe that, but they seemed very concerned that I have this paperwork before their big trip.  Just a little fishy if you ask me.

Well isn't this just a lovely little piece of heaven ?!
Anyway, this got me thinking that Karen and I probably should get all our things in order.  But it made me wonder which of my kids we should pick to be in charge of things.  I think that's a conversation worth waiting 20 years or so to have.

I do know that we're leaving the kids to Aunt Jodie and Uncle Jeremy ... if for nothing else than to force the two of them to get together "in the interest of the kids" and all that!  :)

...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Is it time for another Pick 6 ?

I think SO !!!

Here are my favorite 6 Songs from the artist Jon Secada.

You might not remember him much, but he was quite popular back when I was in high school.  I still remember jamming to his tunes on the way to early morning seminary ... and even dancing to some of them at school and church dances.


So let me know your thoughts ... click the title of each song for a link to it on YouTube ... not all the best quality, but you'll enjoy the step back in time, I promise you!  :)

#6.  If You Go  - This song came out my senior year of high school and it was a great "let's not break up" kind of song.  I had been in an on-again, off-again relationship and this song just seemed to fit.  The words are filled with longing, but also somewhat of a sense of "I'll move on ... if I have to."  For those that knew me and knew that relationship, I think we'd all agree it was very much for the best that my mission came along and disrupted plans that others had for me.  So glad ... so VERY glad ... I love you Karen!

#5.  Do You Believe In Us?  - I'm probably wrong but I think this was the 2nd major hit he had from his debut album.  Another song that immediately takes me back to high school crushes, this song was one of the first that made me realize I love string instruments in the background of pop music.  They just add depth and I love that against a drum-heavy background.

#4.  If I Never Knew You  - This is a beautiful love song that is a duet with Shanice.  I actually had never heard this song until I bought his Greatest Hits CD, but I love the melody and especially the message.  This song makes me think of my beautiful wife and family.  Life would be so empty without Karen (and then later, my kids).  What can I say, I'm a sucker for love songs!

#3.  Too Late, Too Soon  - On the flipside, I am also a sucker for break-up songs and this one just conveys such a desperate message from a travelling husband/boyfriend who happens upon the worst possible scenario.  But rather than shoot the guy (like in Maroon 5's "Wake Up Call"), this person simply laments the decisions that led him to this sad situation.  Not a "happy" song, but an amazing tune that I can listen to over and over again.

#2.  I'm Free  - Amazing piano!  I love piano heavy music!  There is just something about those keys and a single voice that gives me chills and makes me want to be able to play and sing along!  The message of this song is so uplifting and powerful, especially when he sings "Do you need a friend right now?  ... Just call me and I'll be right there."  Who among us hasn't needed a friend to just be there and tell us the good things that are happening in life all around us every day?!

#1.  Time Heals  - This song has special meaning for me.  Remember back to your first "true love."  Of course, if you're like most of us, that was not love at all, but the emotions you felt with that person were the first real deep emotions you likely ever felt.  Then when it is over it just feels ... empty.  Like life will never get better and you'll never be happy again.  This song is especially poignant for those times if you were the one who felt betrayed and "dumped."  The song starts so happy with "I love you ..." but in just a few more seconds you understand the feelings being expressed and they are not loving.  I also like this song because it is right in my vocal range and I can sing along at any time of the day without screeching my voice too much.  "Cause I loved you and I was true ... but you never loved me at all.  I was 'just your friend' that's all."

So there you have it ... many more artists to come ... I've thought about doing a song a day, but I like this better.  I'm not coordinated enough to do it on a set day each week though so you'll just have to pop back to see my other favorites from the eclectic collection of artists I love to listen to.

...

So when does the "other shoe" drop ?

You've probably heard this saying before ... "I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop."

If you haven't, then let me explain it briefly.  It is usually stated by someone when they are feeling like things are just a little TOO good to be true.

For me, these past few weeks and months (and years to be perfectly frank) seem to have been one constant "waiting for the other shoe to drop" kind of experience.  I know I've blogged here before about just how awesome I think various aspects of my life are ... but today (and late last night as I was falling asleep) it just hit me again.

Without covering the entire expanse (especially because it would probably sound like I'm bragging, which leads to pride and that's generally not a good thing), let me highlight a few recent "awesome" things that just leave me wondering "How am I so darn blessed?!"

First, from a spiritual standpoint, I do not think I have felt my testimony being so strong since my missionary days.  Not that I've been "lost" or anything.  It's just that we've been super blessed as a family to be able to have some really cool faith-promoting experiences.

Second, financially things have been much better than they probably should be.  That's not to mistakenly say that we're rollin' in it but the Lord has provided for us in all sorts of expected and unexpected ways.  This further strengthens my faith in the principle of tithing.  Ten percent is truly nothing compared to the blessings we receive as we continue to live this law, both in the spirit and to the letter.

Third, relationships.  I've just become even more aware of the amazing people I have around me.  Beyond my immediate family (which is crazy amazing and deserving of a father/husband so much better than I am), I am surrounded by extended family and friends that literally would take a bullet for me.  Or at least they would come and jump my car if it died, etc.

Fourth, physically I am just in a very comfortable place.  I'm not in the best shape of my life, but with a little more running and maybe some light weightlifting I could easily get there (and plan too by mid-summertime).  Sure there are aches and pains in parts of my body I never really knew existed before, but they still dissipate with a few ibuprofen and a good night's sleep.

All this is just to say that I truly thank my Father in Heaven for His amazing support of me through a variety of blessings that I am sure He knows I deserve, but I respectfully question His grace to me.  I am humbled by His generosity, and yet, I know He is waiting to bless me even more as I strive to live more in His way.

Thanks to Him and to all of you for being a part of my "living the dream!"

...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wha-a-a-a-a-at ?

To get this post correct you have to say the title with more of an "O" sound as you get further into the A's in the long wha-a-a-a-a-a-at word ... almost like you're saying "whoa" but then you make your voice get more falsetto and ... well anyway, if you can't figure it out just give me a call and I'll demonstrate.

If yesterday's post didn't give it away, I was able to attend a BYU basketball game tonight at Moby Arena in Ft Collins, CO.  You can go to espn.com or any other sports website to find out how the game played out ... short summary: BYU up 15 at halftime ... CSU played aggressive D int he second half and kept the game close (no better than within 6 points) up until the last minute.  Final score: BYU 94, CSU 85.

This afternevening into the night was an excursion with my younger brother Jordan and my dad.  It was a rare opportunity for the three of us to spend some time together ... with just the three of us.  It is somewhat sad that we don't get to spend more time with each other, because we have a blast!  I say "somewhat sad" because when we're not together we're usually with our wives and/or children ... and there is nothing sad about spending time with our immediate families!

I have not laughed so hard in a VERY long time.  The drive up is around two hours depending on traffic through Denver.  This left LOTS of time for the three Case men (we missed you Jeremy but we also respect that basketball/sports is not really your thing) to talk on all kinds of topics: life, our beautiful wives, jobs, Church service, in-laws, politics, diversity, differences in the world today versus 20, 50 or 100 years ago, etc.

For those who haven't been around Case men much, you better come prepared with what you want to say and you better recognize when the others are taking a breath because it is the ONLY time you are going to get a word in edgewise.  The conversation also moves around like the dogs in the movie UP when they hear "Squirrel!"  So if you have a comment about a topic from 30 seconds ago, you're TOO late !!!

For dinner we polished off the 50 Chicken McNuggets meal at McD's (which comes with two large drinks and two large fries).  I have decided that Ben (my 9-year old) and I are going to try to Case-Men vs. Food that meal ourselves ... mostly because I finished most of the meal after my dad and Jordan claimed they had cramps or something equally ridiculous and lame!  :)  Just kidding guys ... but I easily ate 20 nuggets and 1 1/3 of the boxes of fries.  Mmmmmm ... I was finally full!  :)

But back to the blog title ... there was this guy about 15 rows up from us dressed to the 9's in his CSU gear.  EVERY single time that a call was made against CSU he emphatically stood up and threw his arms in the air.  We noticed this only a few minutes into the game and laughed ourselves each time from then on.  When he stood up we'd say in a slightly louder than was probably appropriate voice "Wha-a-a-a-a-at?!"  The guy was way too far from us to hear it, but the people around us (most of them BYU fans) got a pretty big kick out of it.  I did feel bad for the family in front of us because obviously they wanted to be in the CSU fan area.  Oh well ... we cheered almost as loudly for CSU when they made an amazing play.

Anyway, I'd better wrap up but I just wanted to publicly say "Thanks!" to my dad and little brother for a incredibly fun and satisfying evening!  The boring drive on the stretch of road that never ends will never be as enjoyable as it was this evening.  And things like "just drive straight forever" and "NOW!" and "do you think it has anything to do with the way the dog looks?" and "I think he had a three and some rebounds ... I better look ... no, he had nothing ... I don't know what I'm talking about" and "do you know when they ate bacon 150 years ago?" and "when you get a text at 11pm you have to wonder where the kid is going to play" will always be cherished memories of the laughter and camaraderie we enjoyed this chilly January night.

Love you guys!  Go Cougs!  Can't wait for the Air Force game on Feb 9th!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

"Y" ?

Check tomorrow's blog for the answer to this question ...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What are "Princess Kisses" ?

Some years ago, it has to be at least 5 or more, I began one of the many little things that has become a Josh and Karen Case Family Tradition.

Princess Kisses.

Long story short, these are the kisses that a "gentleman" a.k.a. a prince will give to a princess as a way to show his like and/or love for her.  The kiss is placed on the woman's wrist or upper hand near her wrist, while holding her hand as you would when helping her down from a carriage ride.  (Go ahead and mock me for using such a feminine description ... I don't care!  This is a cool tradition and you know it!  And when you finish reading you're going to be jealous that YOU didn't think of it!)

Anyway, in addition to kissing my daughter(s) good night on their forehead or cheek, I also give them "Princess Kisses" ... one on each hand.  Sometimes they forget to remind me (I always plan to do it but sometimes I make them ask me because it is so cute when they say "You forgot to give us princess kisses!").


The little hand is Myra's  :)
 Tonight, on her way to bed, and after receiving her "princess kisses," my 7-year old daughter Brooklyn was reminiscing on those long ago days (ha ha!) and she reminded me of two things:
 - First, at one point she was in the habit of wiping off the princess kisses and then shouting as I left the room that I forgot to give her princess kisses.  Then I would come back, fake being upset, and give her more princess kisses.  After three or four times of this each night I will tell her "last time" and then she would not wipe them off again.
 - Second, during this same period, I would often give dozens of princess kisses, in rapid-fire mode, back and forth on each hand.  This was a technique I developed for those nights when I didn't have time to do the first activity described above.  I would tell her that there were too many princess kisses to wipe off and that would get me out of the room much quicker.

It is not that I had forgotten those memories, but I was surprised that they still stood out in Brooklyn's mind.  So I thought that would be a perfect Blog Post for today, especially since it might not be that many years before she stops accepting my princess kisses and begins expecting them from her future prince!  :)

...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Can I call it a Border War ?

From January of 2003 through March of 2009 (with the exception of about one year in there somewhere), My wife and I lived in the Stetson Hills Ward (of the Colorado Springs East Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

This is very important for reference as related to tonight's blog topic.

During those years, I played on the Stetson Hills basketball team in our annual Church league, which runs from January through the end of March (roughly).  I became great friends with many men on that team over those years.  Most years we were either the best team or a very close second place (although there is no official trophy or playoff system ... you just go with straight wins and losses).

People like Jeff Murrow, Kirk Blad, Rick Evelo, Darrin Wilde (when he came out to play), and Brian Null became more than just my teammates.  These were truly my brothers, and not just like "Brother Jeff," I mean like guys that I felt like I could always count on and they could always count on me.

In March of last year, my family was growing and so we moved into our current house.  Based on the boundaries, this forced our move to a new ward (Oakwood) instead of Stetson Hills ... which meant I would need to switch teams.  You have to understand here that historically during this time, these two wards were often the #1 and #2 teams in our league.  Or at least if they played their best players they would be the two best teams (Oakwood often had inconsistent attendance in the games against less competitive teams).

I can't say why, other than sheer competition, but there was something of a hatred of these other players on the basketball court.  Off court, we were always very civil to one another and honestly things were more than just cordial, they were near friendly.  But once that whistle blew, all bets were off.

Needless to say, I dreaded the switch to my new team.  I felt like the kid in the Mighty Ducks who gets moved from the "cake-eater" team to the "less fortunate" club ... except in reverse.  Perhaps my perceived aire of authority and what I like to call "general belief of betterness" of the Oakwood team, made me feel this way.

Regardless, once this year's schedule came out, I knew this night would come.  I would be forced to either skip a basketball game ... or play against my ... brothers.

To keep this blog from being inordinately long (too late), I'll sum the game up this way: it went WELL.  Tempers never really flared up (which is a HUGE rarity in this rivalry!) on either side of the ball.  It helped that Oakwood had a large lead early on, but Stetson Hills made a remarkable comeback and were within 3 points at halftime.  Coming out of the half, our two fastest players (that used to always be me) had several steals and fast break points to build the lead back to 15 or 16 ... and we never looked back.  Final score: 74 to 60.

Ultimately, I wanted a blow-out ... and I actually didn't care who was on the winning end ... I just wanted it to be relaxing at the end without any arguing or stress.  Mission accomplished.  I am finding new friends on this new team and there is fun to be had again, without the need for officials to intervene.

But the best news is ... I don't have to shave my "Unbeaten Beard" yet!
(Pictures to be provided at the end of what I hope to be an unbeaten season)
Woot woot!  :)

...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ever just need to laugh ?

Sometimes, when a day has just seemed longer than humanly possible, I just need to laugh.

Tonight we watched a few episodes of The Office, Season 7.  They were just the right thing after a seemingly endless day.  It made me think about stand-up comedy ...

One of my favorite comedians is
Brian Regan
and his stuff can be easily found on YouTube.



Here's one of my favorite clips from him at the Improv ... I hope you enjoy it!

Brian Regan on "Pop Tarts"

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Do you ever have Deja Vu ?

My all time favorite response to that question is contained in the movie Groundhog Day.  I'll be blogging about that movie on February 2nd, but for now let me not leave you hanging (that is, if you haven't recently seen or ever seen the movie ... which is a tragedy ... a real tragedy.  No!  The movie is not a tragedy!  It is a true romantic comedy.  I mean the fact that you haven't seen it ever or recently is a tragedy ... a real shame ... oh yeah, on with my blog).

Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) asks the lady who runs the Bed and Breakfast he is staying at:
"Do you ever have Deja Vu?"

To which she replies:
"Uh ... oh ... I don't know.  I could check with the kitchen."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ... ha ... ha ... heh ... hmmm ...
guess you had to be there.

Anyway, if you'd like to know what today was like for me and why I am asking that as my blog title question ... please feel free to refer back to last Sunday and Monday's posts:

Because today we:
 - Got chores inside the house done
 - Hung out with the Browns
 - Played hide and go seek in the dark

It ... just ... felt ... so ... familiar!

Super fun day which makes me think of another quote from Groundhog Day.  "THAT was a pretty good day!  Why couldn't I get THAT day to live over and over and OVER again?!"

Today, I did.

...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How can she already be turning 8 ?!

This evening Karen and I, along with Myra, went to Brooklyn's Baptismal Preview at the Meadowland Stake Center.  It was a nice, relatively short meeting.  The spirit was there and it was very inspiring.  In all, the Oakwood Ward has 16 children turning 8 this year, so it was the most crowded Baptismal Preview I've ever been to (only the 3rd one at that, but still ... it was a LOT of people).

Anyway, I was caught up in reflecting on how quickly time flies.  Brooklyn is already 7 years old and in September she will be the 3rd child in our family that I will have the honor and pleasure of baptizing into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am so grateful for my testimony of the truthfulness of our Heavenly Father's plan for us on this earth.  I am humbled by my ability as an imperfect man to hold the Priesthood and, with it, to be able to perform sacred acts that transcend this mortal existence.

I am not one to proselyte to others in any way that would make them feel like I was trying to convince them of what I know to be true.  But I will not deny my faith in my Savior Jesus Christ, nor will I ever be unwilling to share my testimony of Him with anyone who is sincerely interested ... even if their interest is just informational and not for the consideration of changing religions or anything of that sort.

Thank you to all who read this, and to my non-Mormon friends I will close with this:  What I have I will gladly share.  If you have questions or are interested, simply ask.  The spirit of our Heavenly Father never accomplishes anything out of force.  It is by patience, meekness, and love unfeigned.  I strive for those qualities myself.  Amen!

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Did I Just Save A Life ?

The door opens.  I hear arguments.  Off in the distance, someone is whining.  Another voice seems to be singing.  In the kitchen are the sounds of the dishwasher being unloaded.  From the looks of it, there is a spill-over around the stove, involving whatever is for dinner.

(Sigh)

I think: "Sounds and looks like it has been a DAY here at the old homestead."

After a little while I am finally able to fix my plate for dinner.  Two of the five older kids are already finished with their meals.  I reach into the fridge to get the chocolate sauce and milk.  Oh sweet joy and saving grace of chocolate milk!  How I long to taste of thy sweetness!  Just a short while and we can be together at last.

Then, the unthinkable happens.

Ben, my 9-year-old, says, in between his final bites of food
"Hey Dad, did you know we have a mouse?"

SonOfA ...

Now my whole meal is ruined and the chocolate milk will be no salvation from the woes of homeownership combined with a housefull of kids and on and on and on.

As the story unfolds I find out that "our mouse" is in window well (the one that is usually flooded).  Ralph S. Mouse has been spending the day climbing in between the screen and the window.  He has also tried, in vain, to leap from the one big rock (about the size of a cantaloupe) that is in the well and out to safety.  For reference, the window well has got to be at least 4 feet deep, maybe five.  Poor Stuart Little.

Karen doesn't want to have to kill Jerry, but that sucker's not coming in our house!  So I, being the amazing husband and conservationist that I am, determine that we can provide Remy with a ramp to climb out of the window well.  But I worry that if he was stupid enough to think he could jump out from a rock that maybe there is no bridge or ladder that will work.

I taped together two six-foot shelf brackets (because one might have been a little too small for Mickey to navigate all the way out of the dungeon).  I took this contraption outside and lowered it into the cavernous opening.  The not-so Mighty Mouse took cover behind the rock and I feared he might never attempt the stairway to heaven on earth.

So I walked away.  The kids returned to their movie.  Karen and I soon resumed our conversation about her pool board meeting, etc.

Then, the unthinkable happened.

My 9-year-old, Ben, comes bounding upstairs!
"Come quick!  He's climbing it!  He's gonna make it!"

I do not get up.  Karen rushes to enjoy the victory.  From the basement I hear cheers, shortly followed by mommy's admonition to "Quiet down or he might fall."  Then all of a sudden ...
SUCCESS !!!

Danger Mouse has done it again!  He has escaped the clutches of the evil Greenback.  Everyone is so happy!

But I just had a thought ... I hope he wasn't just heading out for pizza!  Maybe he was bringing something back for Minnie.  You know how they love their cheese.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

What's the Best kind of Food ?

All together now ...

FREE FOOD !!!

This week employees at our Progressive call center here in Colorado Springs were treated to ONE free breakfast item from Chick-Fil-A (on Academy Blvd. near the Chapel Hills Mall).

I overslept Monday and missed that one.  : (

Then I was late heading to work Tuesday morning
so I missed that one too.    : (    : (

But the past three mornings ... I was on a QUEST!

And I GOT my FREE breakfast item(s)!

Wednesday: Chicken Biscuit

Thursday: Spicy Chicken Biscuit

Friday: 4 Chick'n Minis

Mmmmmmm ... what a glorious breakfast week it has been.
So sad that it all has to end.

But this is just another
super cool reason
I LOVE working at Progressive!

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Math?

One bad movie experience
+ (plus)
three nights of VERY odd dreams
- (minus)
the rest I truly needed on those nights
x (multipled by)
the four hous of basketball in the past three days
/ (divided by)
the unique needs of each of my six kids
+ (plus)
the needs of my Pretty Lady (which are not much at all)
x (multiplied by)
the needs and wants of all my other responsibilities
(see: work, scouts, church, the house, shopping, etc.)
- (minus)
at least one solid meal each of the past three days

= (equals)

This lame idea for a Blog Post ...
I'm emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted !!!

Good night world ... see you tomorrow ...
feel free to bring donuts!
Ooh, and chocolate milk too!  :)

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ever hear of a "Pick-6" ?

I love music!  I have been influenced by so many artists and songs and music styles that it is impossible to pick one favorite ... so I won't.  But what I will do instead (on occasion in this blog) is select an artist and do a "Pick 6" for them.  This will include my favorite 6 songs and, if possible, what I believe are their best 6 videos.  I am glad to have been born enough years before the "video music era" so I can do this.

So without further ado, tonight's featured artist is:     Michael Jackson

We'll start with the videos (which I have provided YouTube links to below).  Remember these are my favorites in order, so I don't expect anyone to agree entirely.

#6.  Speed Demon.  Although not the most popular of his songs, this video, was quirky, funny and blended claymation with the craziness that was MJ-fever in the late 1980s.  Amazing pop-culture tie ins from that same time period with notable appearances by the "Noid" and Pee-Wee Herman.
Speed Demon video (LONG version)

#5.  Thriller.  I guarantee many will disagree with this, but you are lucky it made this list at all!  I hated this video growing up because it gave me nightmares!  Why my parents ever let me watch it at such an impressionable age is beyond me!  But it deserves some props because it was truly THE predecessor to all great videos to come from any artist ever!  MJ took the music video and turned it into an event!
Thriller video (NOT the full length one)

#4.  Remember The Time.  Also a great song, this video featured an amazing all-star cast and continued to be way ahead of its time in terms of visual appeal ... except of course for the fact that MJ was no longer black and his facial features were becoming more odd.
Remember the Time video

#3.  Black or White.  Once again drawing on a cast of colorful and popular characters, this video (and that ridiculously catchy guitar riff) will always be one of my favorites of all time.  What kid versus parent battle hasn't included loud music, but the message of the video was much more meaningful than that.  This was also the first time I recall seeing CGI used to morph one person into the next person.  Soooo cool!
Black or White video

#2.  Billie Jean.  A true classic.  I don't have any idea if this was his very first music video, but the use of light and shadows to tell the story of this song caught my eye the first time I saw it and still captivates me to this day.  I always wanted to have a street to walk on like that ... step, LIGHT-UP ... step, LIGHT-UP.
Billie Jean video

#1.  Smooth Criminal.  I call it like I see it and NOTHING has made me say "Whoa!" like the dance scene in this video, which climaxes with an impossible dance lean that still mystifies me.  Of course we know how it was done, but it still impresses visually and I think that has to be one of the hardest positions to hold amidst all that high energy dancing.  Just ... wow!  Plus in the extended movie version he saves the kids and that's important after shooting guns and dancing with hookers.
Smooth Criminal video

And in short order, since this is already a time-consuming blog post,
here are my favorite MJ songs:
#6.  Black or White
#5.  I Just Can't Stop Loving You
#4.  Will You Be There
#3.  The Way You Make Me Feel
#2.  You Are Not Alone

And what I believe to be the BEST Michael Jackson song ever ...

#1.  Human Nature
The melody is simple, the words are poetic, the message is not too deep ... but ultimately what makes this my absolute favorite MJ song is that it NEVER gets old!  I can seriously listen to it 100 times in a row and I still get a little excited when it starts over again.  Super fun to sing along with too!
Human Nature compilation video

Hope you enjoyed this not-so-brief tribute to the amazing talent
that was Michael Jackson.  Feel free to comment on what you
think I missed or just plain got wrong!  :)

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ever had a BAD day ?!

Well I did today.  But rather than focus on the main reason for that bad day, I'd rather share something positive.  And I positively LOVE basketball!

I am the APAD (Assistant Physical Activities Director) for the Colorado Springs East Stake (for my non-Mormon readers, a "Stake" is a collection of "wards" in a geographical location ... and "wards" are not children that the state is responsible for placing with guardians ... think of them as "congregations" in any other sort of church setting).

Anyway, as the APAD I am largely responsible for the opening of the building and setting up of the gym for Men's basketball games during our "season" (which typically runs from January through March).  This year on Tuesday nights we only have a 9:00pm game (usually there are two games with the second running from 10-11pm).  This means that we get to have "open gym" after the 9pm game is over until 11:00pm.

I will admit that sometimes I am not excited about having to go to the church and sit for an hour while other people play basketball.  But I do love playing and tonight was especially rejuvenating!  After the day I had (which started with a horrible night's sleep yesterday evening), it was just an hour of fun.

And it made me think about something my mom said to me earlier ... I really DO love basketball!  I think that single hour of exercise, cleverly disguised as a game, might have just saved this day for me!  I know I'll sleep more soundly tonight and I'll be better prepared for work tomorrow.  I'll be able support and coach the people who are grateful and so very deserving of the best I have to offer.

I love ending the day on a positive note !!!  :)

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Monday, January 10, 2011

What do you do on a Snow Day ?

If you're as lucky as we are, you call the Browns and because Bishop Brown doesn't have to teach school (due to the snow day for School District 20), you get to hang out with them all afternoon playing games, eating dinner, and talking about the blessings of the Gospel!

We played one round of 7 Wonders (which was nice of Jeff and Tiffany to allow since they are somewhat burned out on the game, but we love it!).  Of course they all let me win since I am a terrible sport if I lose!  Ha ha!  Just kidding!  With the Browns I actually don't care if I win or lose.  It really is just fun to play the games.  But let the record show that I beat Tiffany by 4 and the other two weren't even close!  :)

We also played another game they have called Pandemic.  It is a group game where you are all working together to save the world from outbreaks of epidemic diseases.  It may not sound like much, but it is so gratifying when we "save the world."


I am so thankful for our friends the Browns!  Their four kids get along just great with ours and the ages are all close enough that almost everyone has a friend their age.  Brooklyn is the "outlier" but Ben and Jensen are pretty good at letting her join in whatever they are doing.

Now it's time to watch some Psych on Hulu.com because we caught up on Bones last night so now Karen has to watch one of my favorite shows!  Until next time ...

...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What's my kids' FAVORITE family game ?

If you guessed "Hide and Go Seek In The Dark!" then you are our winner!

Tonight after eating a delicious and early dinner (two points for the Pretty Lady!), the kids decided that it was a perfect night to play hide and go seek in the dark.
I am not sure when the idea for this game started.  It seems as though it was at least 5 years ago and probably was something Karen or I made up when the power went out to keep the kids from freaking out or being too scared.
Now that I think about it, we probably made it up to teach the kids NOT to be scared of the dark.

At any rate, it is a very simple game to play (you can probably already guess the "twist" to it) and even the littlest girls can enjoy it (most of the time).  One set rule is that the last person found has to be "IT" for the next round.

Two constants are always at play:
 - One, I am THE best hider ever!  I personally think that at 6 feet tall and close to 180 pounds (not up to my target weight yet!), I should have somewhat of a disadvantage in this category, but I am quite clever which makes up the difference.
 - Two, the kids are ALL fairly lazy seekers.  By this I mean that they just kinda look near where you are hiding.  Whereas I will poke clothes that are hanging and move boxes or furniture to find you, they just kinda glance in the general direction.  This invariably leads to complaints of "I can't find him and I've looked EVERYWHERE !!!"  Which is technically true, but they almost always look right at me and then walk on still trying to find me.  I often get found because I laugh as they walk away, but I'm getting better at waiting until they leave to chuckle in my evil scientist voice.

But I digress, the evening was a blast and it ended with mommy being the seeker and daddy having found excellent hiding places for the three older kids (Myra went to sleep early on while Cat and Savannah were too scared to play for very long ... and they cannot be quiet while hiding so everyone refuses to hide with them).
 - Ben was up on a ledge in our bedroom, covered with a white towel and he blended in quite nicely!  He did a good job being quiet as mommy walked past (under) him a few times.
 - Brooklyn was laying lengthwise on our bed ... under our pillows!  She actually fell asleep and I think mommy found her by hearing the snores!  Just kidding Brooklyn!
 - Josh Jr was the lone "give-up" casualty.  He "overheated" which is probably quite likely considering he was crammed in standing next to the dryer while it was on.  I had covered up his upper body (which was the only visible part) with my white dress shirt from church today, so he was expertly hidden.  Mommy even felt along the wall right next to where he was standing and totally missed him.

I really enjoy playing this game and can't wait until next time when we hide in the basement (it was only the main level tonight).  It may take a few years because even the older kids think it will be too scary down there now, but there are some SUPER hiding places!  I'd better bring a small flashlight and a book because I'll have plenty of time before they find me!  :)

...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Have you seen my new ring ?

Around six weeks ago I was playing basketball (of course) and took my wedding ring off while playing (so it doesn't get stuck on the rim while I'm skying over people).  I put it in the pocket of my slacks that were on the stage.  Later that evening when basketball was over, I forgot to put the ring back on.

Sometime during the next day I realized I still hadn't put the ring back on ... and I panicked!  Only a little because I assumed I knew right where it was.  But after a quick search, I could NOT find it.

I immediately told Karen (so she wouldn't worry about our relationship, etc.) and then I searched more diligently.  Nothing.

A week went by and I did all the laundry.  Still no ring.

I checked the church again the next week at basketball, but no luck.  Now I really started to worry because "I'm taken!" and I like having a ring to show that off!

Long story short, (too late!), about a week ago Karen and I just decided to buy a replacement ring (more for my anxiety than hers).  After realizing that gold prices have apparently gone WAY up, we skipped the jewelry stores and opted to buy a nice CTR ring online, which will also serve as my wedding band.

So we ordered this ring ...


And wouldn't you know it ... the VERY next day ... I put on a pair of slacks for work and when I slipped my cell phone into that pocket I heard an interesting "clink" sound.  There was my wedding ring!  Safe and sound, presumably just hanging out in my slacks all this time.  I would have thought I rotate through my slacks more often than that, but I guess with the Christmas season and all I wore my jeans much more often.

So now I have my original wedding ring AND a super cool CTR ring.  Only problem is, the knuckle on my right hand ring finger has never gone back to a normal size (another basketball injury) so I cannot wear one ring on each hand.  For now, I am opting to wear the CTR ring (mostly because I think it's too small and may never come off again!)  Maybe someday I'll be able to wear both, but for now I am just happy to be "taken" again!  :)

...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Is it a DAM date or a MAD date ?

I think everyone knows what a "standard" DAM date is, but for those who are pretending to be clueless, I'll spell it out.
D - Dinner
A - And a
M - Movie

So I mentioned to Karen on our date tonight that it was a DAM date.  After I clarified for her what that was she corrected me.  (Which she NEVER does!  Seriously!  This is like time #3 in our almost 13 married years together).  Anyway, back to the story ... she informed me it was actually a MAD date.

And she is right ... it was Movie And Dinner instead of the other way around.

Denver LDS Temple at dusk

For my Mormon readers, we went to an Endowment session at the Denver Temple.  So we saw a "movie" and then after leaving the Temple we went out for dinner.  Ask me sometime about what a fiasco the coordination of which session we went on was.  Ridiculous!


For my non-Mormon readers, attending the Temple is something members of our church do in addition to regular meetings on Sundays, etc.  An Endowment session is the main reason someone like me would go to the Temple, but there are many other activities that take place there.  If you're the least bit curious just let me know and I'll be happy to share whatever I can (much of it is sacred so there are limits on what I can divulge).  No proselyting necessary.  I'd just be sharing information and would be happy to hear what you believe in, especially if we have common ground to share.

So anyway, tonight I had a great MAD date with my beautiful wife Karen.  Thanks Pretty Lady for going to the Temple with me!  Love ya!

...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Where did all these Gift Cards come from ?

Okay, so I know where they came from because the name of the store they represent is RIGHT THERE on the card ... but what I mean to ask is:
How did I acquire so many?

And the better question: JU$T how much money I$ left on THE$E ?!

The other evening Karen treated me to Cold Stone Creamery ice cream.  It was yummy!  We decide to go mainly because she had a $5 gift card, which she said she had gotten from me some time ago.
Score!  Nothing tastes better than FREE FOOD!

So today while I was listening to some calls at work I pulled out my wallet to see if I had any gift cards inside.  I was shocked to find FIVE gift cards.  That's not even counting the two I'm carrying around in my back pocket that I got for Christmas.

I found I had the following (amidst all my other "wallet stuff"):
 - A gift card to Panera Bread (with the number 4.50 written in scratchy pen at the top on the back).
 - A gift card from Home Depot (with nothing scribbled on the back).
 - Two gift cards to Wal-Mart (both with $10 written in red pen on the back).
 - And a gift card to Maggie Moos ice cream (with what I can best guess is 4.24 hastily written on the back) ... in my defense, it looks quite faded and could easily be 4.79, etc.

The two gift cards I have in my back pocket are for $30 at Smashburger (mmmm, getting hungry just thinking about it!) and for around $60 to Zio's.
The latter was a gift from my team (it was for $100, which was extremely generous of them, but we've already gone out to lunch once on it).
The former was from either Karen or Santa Claus (I can't remember but they both deserve credit for knowing me so well!)

So realizing this at work I came up with only one solution.  When I left around 1:30pm, I went to Wal-Mart and bought myself a new basketball (only cost a little out of pocket).  And then I popped next door to Home Depot and bought a piece of insulation for the garage door.  That way I could find out that after the purchase I still had $17 and change on the card.  Score again!  I also have made plans to reward myself with a Cinnamoo shake (don't knock the name until you try one ... they're soooo yummy!) on Saturday if I get my work all done earlier in the day.

I love finding gift cards (as long as they still have money on them and haven't expired or something like that).  It's like putting on a winter coat and finding a $20 bill in the pocket.  It's like ...

FREE MONEY !!!

...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Is there a better sport than Basketball?

I say no.  There is NO better sport than basketball.  Period.

Here's a short list that should convince even the most belligerent non-basketball person:
#1.  Basketball is fun.
 - Sure you can have fun playing ANY sport, but there is just a certain feeling that comes from putting that ball into that hoop and hearing that "swish" sound.  Or making a breakaway layup.  Or blocking someone's shot!  Or stealing the ball from someone who is trying to get all fancy with their dribbling.  Kids as young as 3 or 4 (probably younger in some areas) can find joy in shooting some for of a ball into some form of a hoop.  Who among you hasn't shot a scrunched up piece of paper at a trash can?  And if you make it ... you can't help but smile and think "I made that!  Two points!"

#2.  Basketball only requires very limited resources to play.
 - Think about it for a minute.  More than any other sport out there, basketball requires only the most basic of equipment.  A basket and a ball.  Even soccer (the next closest "basic equipment" sport) requires at least two goals and room to run.  But basketball can be played in your dinky little dorm room!  Heck, you can even shoot toilet paper wads at the trash can in your bathroom (although the feeling is not as gratifying when you sink a shot from 30 inches rather than 30 feet).  Drive down any neighborhood that doesn't have covenants against them and you're sure to find countless hoops just waiting for some "ballers" to use them.

#3.  Basketball works great for many people, or just TWO people.
 - How many other sports can be played with just two people?!  Even when there are lots of people waiting to play, the games can be made to last less time and team members can switch out very easily.

#4.  Basketball balances teamwork with individual talent.  Neither one replaces the need for the other.
 - Stick with me on this one please.  Michael Jordan was ridiculous talented.  Everyone has heard of him and most everyone has seen his amazing talent on display either in person or on YouTube videos, etc.  But as great as he was, he never won a Championship, much less a single game, by himself.  On the other side of the coin, you may have a team that works cohesively to play aggressive defense and stymies opponents.  But someone eventually has to put that ball in that hoop, which requires some level of talent and skill.  The best individuals make the team around them better, and the best teams can make one individual truly shine.
 - You can be a winner by making that last shot, but you can also be a winner by being on the team that siply played best together.

#5.  Basketball requires a certain level of physical fitness, but you can still play into your 50s.
 - Look at a typical NFL offensive line and you'll see as much "extra" weight as you will on your neighborhood coach potato committee.  There are occasional "heavy" basketball players, but the majority don't come close to that level of physical unfitness.
 - The back and forth, up and down required each game forces players to build up more than average cardiovascular fitness.  This helps prevent heart attacks and prolongs life.  This is not unique to basketball, but some sports involve a lot more "standing around" than constant movement.  Baseball is probably the worst offender, with hockey, soccer, or water sports being closest to non-sedentary.
 - I still play basketball with guys that are in their late 40s or early 50s.  They are certainly not as fast as the younger guys, but they can still play the game at a very high level.  Their experience allows them to know more than their younger peers and they maximize efficiency of movement to get open for a shot or make the right pass.

I could go on, but this was intended to just be a short list.  I welcome your challenges and comments.  If there are enough good arguments I'll add my second list of reasons ... but I doubt I even need to go there.  So run me off the field football fans!  Knock my argument out of the park baseball players!  Spike one down my throat volleyballers!  Kick one past me soccer stars!  Sink my battleship all ye swimmers!  Bowl me over pinheads!  Put me on ice hockey puckers!  Tennis anyone?  I doubt it!  Those folks are probably too pretentious to read blogs.
But if you do play tennis and live nearby, call me ... I'd love to play again!  :)

...