Sunday, July 31, 2011

How can a "BURN" be hilarious ?!

Karen and I have continued to enjoy our Instant Netflix on the Wii.  I've blogged several times before about different shows we have watched (in their entirety) through this "on demand" sort of system.  It has been well worth our small investment (and we'll almost certainly switch to fully "instant" versus getting discs in the mail if Netflix does up their price to do both!)

Our most recent show / tv series that we've been whiling away the hours watching has been "That 70's Show"
Having both been born in the 70's, we are too young to really catch all the references, but it is still very amusing to see this group of friends deal with life's varied experiences.

Obviously I am not a supporter of the "aromatherapy" they partake in.  Nor am I excited by their constant alcoholism.  The "catchphrase" by Red (the cantankerous old father) is also far from a great example.
But one part of the show in particular has made me enjoy it as much as anything I've ever watched!

The "burns"

I'm talking about the "burn on tour" and the "boomerang burn" and the "baby burn."  Even the "haircut burn" was just hilarious!

(L-R) Hyde and Kelso

If you've never watched the show,
here is a brief explanation:
 - A "burn" is when one of the main characters embarasses another character.
 - Although not in every episode, these occur often enough that it is easily one of the best running gags of the entire series!

And here are very brief summaries of the "burns" mentioned above:
 - The "burn on tour" occurred when Kelso "burned" Hyde twice in one episode.  Once at the "house" and once at the restaurant where they both worked at the time.
 - The "boomerang burn" was also when Kelso "burned" Hyde twice ... but they were back-to-back in one long sentence/situation.
 - The "baby burn" actually happened to Kelso and was delivered by Fez through Kelso's own baby!
 - In the "haircut burn" Kelso actually clipped a chunk of hair from Eric Forman's head!

To truly appreciate the comedy of these situations you have to watch the show.  You will probably laugh if you just see these particular episodes, but they are even more funny if you know the characters really well.  And the scenes are at their best when you watch them with someone else who laughs just as hard as you do when they happen!  I love you Pretty Lady!  Your laugh always makes my world better than anything I could ever imagine!


Who messed up the Sugar Bear ? AGAIN ?!

We have a unique sugar container in our house.

It is a glass bear with a metal twist top that has a tiny little spout for the sugar to be poured out.  Unfortunately, this tiny little hole gets clogged with sugar clumps very easily, especially if the lid gets wet.  I have cleaned it WAY too many times!

I like how it looks like he has a goatee in this picture (left).
And you can see the tiny sugar spout (on the right).

Today, while preparing to make my world famous pancakes, I grabbed the "sugar bear" and it was sticky all over!  The lid was sugared shut and it was evident that someone had been playing with him*
*(I am assuming "it" is a "him" but there are certainly no distinguishing characteristics that would keep this from being a female sugar bear ... except maybe the shadow "goatee").

After a fairly long amount of silence from all of the children ... Catalina, my 4 year old, came forward to admit it was her.
These are excerpts from the conversation that followed:

Cat:  I sowwy I touch you shooga beya.
     Me:  Why did you do it?
Cat:  I was yookeen for a stwawbewwy.
     Me:  (stifled laughter)  Did you find one?
Cat:  (sad face)  No!
     Me:  So what did you do then?
Cat:  I jes put it in my mouf ... an' suck on it.
     Me:  (laughing uncontrollably)
Cat:  Why you laffeen' ?!  Wha' so funnee ?!  I cute huh?!

Another "self portrait" from Cat !

That darn Cat has my number!  :)

I made her promise to come and ask me for help if she ever finds a strawberry and wants sugar on it.  I also made her promise not to touch my "shooga beya" anymore.  She's so darn cute!


How can 4 "D's" become an "A" ?

In chronological order they are ...

Don Lockard talk @ church!


Delicious Dinner!


This afternoon we visited my in-law's ward (church) for my father-in-law's talk on Obedience.  It was a great talk (the other speaker was very good too on the same topic)!

When first mixed, this dough was
no bigger than a softball !

When we got home we finished our most recent batch of donuts (YUM!)  The dough raised for 2 hours, which made it triple (or quadruple) in size.  This led to the most light and airy donuts we have had so far.  And since Ben helped Karen stir the chocolate coating, it was just right (not too thin and not clumpy).  Mmmmmm!

Then we had Rick, Mandy, and their son Peter over for dinner.  We also had Grandma and Grandpa Lockard over too.  They brought garlic bread!  We still had plenty of the casserole I blogged about previously, so everyone ate their fill and it was just as delicious as before!

After prayers and bedtime for our kids we played some dominoes with the older Lockards (Rick and Mandy had to get home to put Peter in bed so we didn't get to hang out with them as much).  Penny (Grandma Lockard) destroyed us!  But to be fair, we played "Penny Up" so her name probably helped her dominate!

So ... 4 D's for the day = an A+ rating!  :)


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Is this why they're not dying ?!

My front yard has a nice, mostly square, grassy area surrounded by rocks.  There are 8 sprinkler heads that douse the lawn with ample amounts of water (when it doesn't rain enough and I need to use the sprinklers).  I fertilize and mow and trim the edges with my electric trimmer.

But the weeds (like Charlie Sheen) ... are ... winning.

I've hand-plucked weeds from the rocky areas MANY times in our 17 months at this house.  I have used a few different types of sprayable weed-killer to no avail.  I'm flat running out of options and feeling like it is a losing battle.

The other day, while weeding, I pulled out this one ...

I had Savannah (my almost 6-yr old) put her hand/arm on the table
so you can get an idea of the scale/size of this weed.

And now I think I know why nothing yet has worked. The above-ground part of the weed almost wasn't big enough to bother pulling out.  But once I carefully unearthed it I was SHOCKED !!!  Look at the length of those roots!  No wonder fertilizer and topical sprays aren't having ANY effect!

Feel free to comment with your tried and true suggestions for ridding my grass of these unsightly weeds.  I am truly open to any suggestions!


Ever hear of a Security Chair ?

Some kids carry around a blanket for security.

Others have a favorite stuffed animal or toy.

My daughter Myra, apparently prefers a chair ...

She drags it behind her on the carpeted areas of our main level.

And pushes it in front of her in the kitchen.

I never thought a chair could be so important!  :)


Where does the time go ?

As I write this ... bedtime is fast approaching ... and it's almost Sunday, again ... and August is basically here ... and we're well past the year 2000.

My question is ... What Happened ?!

I remember on my LDS Mission in Los Angeles CA (back from Oct 1995 - Nov 1997), that I first heard someone utter the phrase "The days feel like weeks, but the weeks feel like days."  I had a limited understanding of that concept at that time and only a little moreso now.

There are instances in life when it feels things could ... not ... be ... moving ... at ... a ... slower ... pace.  Waiting in line.  Looking forward to the weekend (especially on a Monday morning!)  My personal favorite example is when you're younger and coming up on a particular birthday.  Turning 10 or 12 or 16 or 18 or 21 years old (especially for those who imbibe) is a landmark moment !  The day cannot get here fast enough!

And then, there is a moment (or many moments if we're being honest with ourselves) where you stop, look back, and wonder when life passed you by.  After years at school, you suddenly find yourself graduating.  You plod along at work and then realize you've been at the same place for a decade or more.
Or in my case today, you start a simple planning session for scout activities and, as you map out the next 8-10 weeks, you realize your oldest child is about to turn 12 years old!

Whoa!  Waitaminute!  How?  When?

But it was just yesterday that ...

Here is where you fill in the rest of your own story.  Take a moment.  Pause.  Reflect on where you are.  Consider where you've come from.  Think about your situation.  In life.  At work.  At home.  With your family.  It was just yesterday that ... and tomorrow you will do even more things, maybe greater things.

Time flies like the wind.
Fruit flies like bananas.
Think about it!  :)
A parting thought for my 200th blog of this year ... I'll turn 35 this September.  All at once everything is different and yet the same.  The memories I have made in just the past 5 years include some of the best of my entire life so far.
But what does the future hold?  I might not have even had any of what will be my personal Top Ten Experiences yet (once I am 70 and can look back with true hindsight and wisdom that only come from the passing of time).  A sobering thought, but also very, very intriguing.

Happy Reflecting!  :)


What IS that flavor ?

Do you ever eat something and it tastes yummy but you just can't quite put your finger on the flavor you're enjoying?!  That was dinnertime for me tonight.

Mandy and Rick
(with their baby Peter)
Yesterday afternoon, my sister-in-law Mandy (married to my wife's youngest brother Rick), dropped off a HUGE casserole-of-sorts at our house (and salad + fixins + dessert).
Her generosity was based on a blog my wife had written about how she isn't a big fan of cooking.  She actually does enjoy cooking but every once in a while the making of 2-3 meals a day does wear on you.

Anyway, it was super sweet of Mandy to make this meal for our family.  We would have eaten it yesterday, but my mom had the 3 older girls, and the boys were with their Aunt Jodie @ Waterworld ... and this casserole was WAY too big for just Karen and I to enjoy.  In fact, it was WAY too big for our family to eat tonight ... but that's plenty okay because now we also know what we're having for dinner tomorrow night!  :)

But the flavor of the dish still has me a little puzzled.  The basic ingredients are macaroni, tomatoes, corn, cheese, and some sort of red sauce (which I normally despise ... but this was sooooooo good!)  The seasoning tasted sweet, but also had just a tiny bit of kick to it.  The closest I can categorize it in is something similar to taco seasoning ... but that is just not doing it justice.  All I know is it was dee-licious!  And the fact that my wife didn't have to cook dinner tonight (or tomorrow) made her very happy ... which makes for a great evening at our house!  :)

Thanks Mandy, for an awesome, VERY tasty surprise ... and also for a very cool pay-it-forward kind of idea.  Karen and I are already considering who we might pass on a full dinner to.  Readers, you've been warned ... but it is a warning of something great that might happen.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Is recycling aluminum cans worth it ?

In the summertime I lose my half of our garage to bikes, the lawnmower, scooters, swim stuff, stroller(s), and other assorted "stuff."  Among the "stuff" collected this summer were over a dozen full-sized plastic trash bags, filled to the brim with aluminum cans.  Most of these came from my parent's house (where soda is almost always readily available ... but they do drink plenty of water too so don't be judging them!)  Probably 2-3 of the bags were from our house (where soda is a popular drink quite often too!)

On Thursday, once the lawn was mowed and the grass fertilized heavily AGAIN (those weeds are just not dying!), I folded the back seats of our van down and (after carefully laying a blanket down to avoid messing up the carpet) loaded up ALL of these bags of cans.  It was NOT easy, but I did get them all to fit and nothing was touching anything other than the blanket or the windows.

The goal was to take the cans to a recycling place that afternoon ... but apparently, they close at 4:30pm ... which we found out as we drove up to the gate and saw the "closed" sign.  It is at least 20 minutes away, probably more.

So today Karen and I finally reclaimed the back of our van from the explosion of cans.  It was a new experience for us, hefting the bags out and then tearing them open to shake all the cans loose and down onto this conveyer belt that drops them in a big scale, which measures the weight, which tells the owners of the place how much to pay you for the materials being recycled.  Kinda cool.  A little weird.  LOUD as all get out!  Dirty, dirty, dirty!  But also, very fun (except trying to get one single can out of a triple-bagged mess of plastic!)

I didn't notice the number on the scale until the one guy told the other guy to "zero it out" for the next customers (they had 3 pounds of cans).  The cashier said "You've got 71 pounds today.  That'll be $42.50."  For a split second I thought I owed him that much ... then it hit me!  SCORE !!!  $43 bucks for 15 bags of "junk" ?!  SAH-WEET !!!  No more peanut butter and jelly for lunch this week!  :)

Moral of the story:  Sometimes doing the "right" thing IS very rewarding!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do you want anything ?

This is a post about texting, which is crazy to think did NOT exist maybe as recently as a decade ago.  It is one of MANY things that my kids have never been in a world without (but that list is a blog for another time).

I think I "interact" more with my wife (during the work day at any rate) now that we text each other regularly, as opposed to when we were first married and I maybe only called her once during the day on my break.  Now we have discussions periodically through the day.  If she is making plans for the evening I can send her a reply (in between my meetings, etc.) and it doesn't need to be a full, formal conversation.

There are disadvantages.  Texting, like any written communication, does not convey tone, humor, sarcasm, etc. very well.
A simple question can be misread as a glaring inquiry.  Consider "Where are you?"  It could be intended to just ensure I know where I'm headed when I leave work.  But it also could be intended to convey frustration because the receiver isn't where you thought they should be.
A simple "update" can seem like a cancellation of plans.  Consider "Going to play basketball."  Nothing too grammatically incorrect about that sort of text, but it eliminates the chance for the receiver to suggest an alternative.

This Blog Post title is a text that Karen and I send each other so often I wish there was a prefill option on our phones.  It would save me typing the 21 characters multiple times a day.  When I'm on my way home I'll check to see if Karen needs me to stop and pick something up.  When she is coming back from a Board Meeting or some other event, she will text and ask me the same thing.
Probably 75% of the time we just reply with a "No thanks" text, but it is kinda nice to be able to say "Yes.  McDonald's would be great!" or something comparable.

Thanks Pretty Lady for both getting me things on your way back home and also for letting me pick stuff up for you when I'm already out.  :)


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where do these comments come from ?!

This evening I was doing a quick scroll over my Facebook News Feed, with Karen reading over my shoulder (because we had just finished watching last week's Leverage), and I just had to make comments on several posts.  They had Karen in stitches, but to me they just seemed like obvious, maybe a little witty, commentary.  Let me know what you think ... here they are:

From a Friend at work:
Her comment on Facebook:
Beef = iron.  Spinach = iron.  My new mainstays for awhile I guess.
Fortunately I like both
My comment on her post:
Beef + Spinach + Nothing Else = Need for Beano  :)  Good luck!

From my awesome sister:
Her comment on Facebook:
Chick-flick night over here.... been a long time since I've watched one and maybe now I'll find them so boring I'll actually fall asleep!!  :P
(A little explanation is needed here ... there were already 4 other comments and all of them said that they read it first as
"Chick-Fil-A" and not "chick-flick")
My comment on her post:
Mmmmm ... Chick-Fil-A ... yummy!  :)  Oh wait ... nevermind.

From an aquaintance / friend of my sister / running buddy of sorts:
Her comment on Facebook:
can't figure out how I walk in the door from a run and less than 2 minutes later someone is asking ME to peel an apple!!!  Seriously, what is the matter with asking the other adult in this house (who is home for once)!?
*sorry, just had to get that off my mind!!*
My comment on her post:
Probably a bad time to ask but can you make me a sandwich?

From the wife of a long-time basketball buddy:
Her comment on Facebook:
My teeth really suck. Anyone want to volunteer to pay for a complete set of molar implants?  That would really solve a lot of problems here.
My comment on her post:
Pretty sure Dracula has the same problem.
(I added the emphasis on the part of her comment that I am referring to in my comment ... in case you didn't get the joke).

So Karen (when she stopped laughing after my last comment) told me that I am hilarious and very quick-witted.  What say you loyal readers?  I'm not looking for compliments here ... just some general reaction as a sort of pulse check.
I just hoped to share a typical 10-minutes in the mind of TheOriginalJC ... :)


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Do you have a favorite "rainy day" song ?

I have blogged MANY times before about how much I LOVE the rain!  This afternevening, as the storm clouds (that had been uneventfully hovering for hours) finally started to let loose their flow of beautiful water droplets, I had another song pop into my head (blogged about that before too!)

The song was "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbitt.  I remember listening to that song off a record or the radio as a small boy in Orem, Utah.  Thankfully my mom and dad had an eclectic collection and taste in music so I was able to hear all kinds of tunes growing up.  This song happens to be my absolute favorite rain-related song ... but there are many others related to "rain" that are worthy of honorable mentions.

So herewith is my impromptu list of rain-themed songs that I like (links to youtube videos for each are included if possible) ...

"Raining On Sunday" by Keith Urban.  I like this song because it focuses on how things can actually be better for relationships when weather changes plans.  There's something difficult about blowing off a day to just hang out with your lover ... but bad weather eliminates any need to make other excuses.  You can just say "We'd have done more but, you know, it was raining ... so we couldn't really do much."  Guilt free time to just hang out with your loved one!

"I Wish It Would Rain Down" by Phil Collins.  I've always been a Phil Collins fan!  From his early stuff that was more edgy and angry, to his save the world, easy-listening, adult contemporary hits of the 90's.  Heck, I even like almost everything he's written for Disney in Tarzan, Brother Bear, etc.  This song isn't a happy tune, but it always makes me smile.  I remember standing outside Heath Junior High School in Greeley, CO and singing this song in my head.  Of course, it had a different motive in those days ... they wouldn't open the doors to let you in early unless it was raining or snowing ... and due to early-morning seminary I was always there very early in the morning.  Timeless tune though and great reference to rain as a chance to wash away memories, sins, and the like.

"Kiss The Rain" by Billie Myers.  Another "slow" song with a bit of a depressing twist ... but the tune is haunting and the desperation in her voice is just evident in virtually every word!  She is separated from her lover and is questioning his devotion and commitment to her.  She ends up simply pleading for him to kiss the rain if he can't resist the temptation of someone else.  At least that's my take on it ... let me know if you see it differently.

"Rain Is A Good Thing" by Luke Bryan.  The very first time I heard the first few words of this song on the radio I knew I would love it.  The chorus is so catchy even though it references drinking excessively and doing things in a barn that would make your mama blush.  My daughters love this song (should I be worried?!) and it is easy to understand why.  Mock country music all you like but you know you're singin' right along with a big ol' southern drawl when he says "start warshin' all our worries down the drain!"

Feel free to add any song I might have missed in the comments below.  I left out "Blame It On The Rain" by Milli Vanilli on purpose (even though it is quite catchy).  I'm sure there are some gems that I have left out, but these came to mind first.  Thanks for reading!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Has it really been THAT long ?!

This morning I was able to spend some time with an old friend.  He's not "old" mind you, but we go way back as the saying goes (which ironically "goes back" a long ways too).

Daniel and his wife Kassiah
Daniel Myers is actually my younger sister's age, but he and I shared many similarities (and still do to this day!) which helped us become good friends in junior high and into high school.  Neither of us were very big for our age (which is a nice way to say we were short and skinny) but we've both "filled out" (if you don't compare us with the current "average" over-sized people in America today).  We both loved music (Daniel introduced me to my favorite group of all time - OMD), and reading, and video games (I remember late nights at sleepovers playing TMNT ... but also Dr Mario!  That's right!  Avid readers of this blog will realize that this is the same guy I blogged about having an on-line Dr Mario game with, where in he stomped me handily!  I resisted the urge to make him play on the old Nintendo today, mostly because I knew I would slaughter him and that's not being a good host!)

Anyhoo ... while eating some pancakes this morning (there was nearly mutiny in this house when I said I'd be making them for breakfast instead of lunch), Daniel and I realized it has been 15-16 years since we've last seen each other!  That is almost half of our life!  It doesn't seem possible, but it is 100% true!

What amazed me the most was how much it was very easy to remember things from so long ago as though they happened yesterday.  As we talked (mostly about our lives now and family and work, etc.) our minds would drift back to experiences we had a decade and a half ago ... and the memories were still crystal clear!  I just think that's cool!  Our brains are amazing!

Here's hoping it won't be another 15-16 years before we can hang out again (Daniel and his family live in Denver, just an hour away, and we were unable to meet his wife and daughter today because they had spa treatments to enjoy!)  Shout out to my little sister who came over this morning too so we could all reminisce together!  Thanks for an absolutely wonderful Sunday Morning!


What is "PE Season" ?

Twice a year at work (it would be quarterly but I'll explain later why it isn't), I spend around 1-2 weeks in what I refer to as "PE Season."  This is not a glamorous time, nor is it like football season or the four seasons (the group or the actual "seasons").

PE Season is the time of year when I write PEs (Performance Evaluations) for my entire team at work.  This is required at both the mid-year (June/July timeframe) and the end-of-year (Dec/Jan timeframe).  It is optional at the end of the 1st and 3rd quarters (which is one main reason why I don't complete these 4 times a year -- the other reason is less selfish ... but is too complicated to explain without grossly expanding the length of this blog).

I generally enjoy these times of year.  It is a chance to formally confirm that my direct reports and I are on the same page in assessing their performance.  I take this responsibility very seriously, as what I write is one of the main sources of information if any of my team members apply for another internal position.  If I have done my job correctly, we will be on the same page and the review process goes rather swiftly.  If I have failed to communicate clearly, then we will have conflicting assessments and the conversations can be very difficult.  The only other option is that the employee has simply chosen not to listen or retain what has been conveyed to them multiple times throughout the previous six months.  Fortunately, that has only happened a handful of times in my over 5 years of writing these PEs.

The one thing I DO NOT like about this season is that it is a LOT of writing!  Hence the absence of Blog Posts from me around these times ... I'm just too exhausted from writing unique assessments for 15-20 people to have any leftover creativity for my blog.  Next year I'll plan ahead and either pre-write several posts (like my big brother Jeremy has done before) or I'll save my picture or video link blogs for that week!

I'm not a big fan of "copied and pasted" assessments.  Those are the ones most people receive, where you can tell that the author simply changed a few words and numbers instead of actually writing an assessment about YOU.  While I am certain I am not the only one to do this among my peer group, it always amazes me when people who are new to my team ask me how I make my reviews so thorough.  It takes a LOT of work, but I think it is worth it because it IS a more thorough process.  This is another reason I don't do quarterly reviews ... there isn't usually enough data or experiences to draw solid conclusions on someone's performance in just 3 months.

The whole point of this blog is for me to be able to celebrate the END of PE Season (at least this first half of that season) for 2011!  As of Saturday, 7/23 @ 4:58pm ... I was finished writing all 19 mid-year PEs for my team members!  It feels soooooo good to be done!  Please don't remind me that it all starts over again in just 5 more months.


Can YOU see the swimsuit lines ?

During the summer months my kids and wife LIVE at the pool.  Between swim lessons (2 weeks straight every other 2-week period), family swim nights (Mondays and Wednesdays), and other occassional visits, my children spend so much time at the pool that things start changing color.
Their hair gets so much lighter and their skin (in parts) gets so much darker.

So without further ado, here are some comparison pictures (of the girls ... the boys will come later), with the last picture in the chain being VERY worth you while as it is the most extreme suntan line I have EVER seen!  Enjoy!

Savannah Joy (5)

And here is Brooklyn (7) ...

And, arguably, the BEST for last ... Catalina (4) ... and her ghost face tan line!  :)


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What if we just lit them all on fire ?

My buddy Tony has done lots of work on his front yard.  He has these two HUGE pine trees and the needles dropping down from the tree basically kept killing all the grass he tried to grow there.  So he decided to just put rocks in and opted for very large river rock on the theory that the needles would be easy to just use a blower to send them flying out of the rocks.

This was a flawed theory that was quickly disproven.

So for the past year, Tony (and anyone who knows him) has been considering different ways to rid the rocks of these needles.  He thinks they are an eyesore, but us friends don't really notice them much.  I guess truth is in the eye of the beholder.

Tonight I somewhat jokingly suggested that he just spray some gas or lighter fluid over the rocks and light them on fire as a sort of "controlled burn" like they do in the wilderness with downed trees, etc.  Tony's face switched into the cheshire grin he wears when he is about to do something mischievious.  He darted into the house and within minutes was back with some charcoal lighter fluid and his long lighter.

The results of our "test section" ?  It actually worked quite well.

I had the hose on ready to douse any problem areas, but there never were any.  The pine needles were 90% disintegrated, with a few areas that remained untouched ... but Tony wasn't as specific with the lighter fluid so that can be overcome.  The one downside (besides the looks we got from a few neighbors and passing vehicles) was that the burn has to be put out relatively soon after it starts to prevent the weed barrier under the rocks from catching fire.
One section did get a little singed and the smoke from that was quite noxious!

I'll update you later if and when Tony and I "finish the job!"  His wife Mindy wasn't entirely against the idea, but she wasn't as excited as we were about the prospect of doing the whole yard that way.  Silly Mindy!
After all, we are (self proclaimed) professional fire dudes!  :)


Why do YOU go to baseball games ?

For scouts (11-year old Boy Scouts to be specific) this past Tuesday night, I had the brilliant idea to take the boys to a Sky Sox game.  It was not brilliant but it did turn out MUCH better than it could have considering my poor planning.

The Colorado Springs Sky Sox are the AAA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.  This works well for the Major League team because they can send players just about an hour away for rehab stints, or to "get their game back on" if they are not quite ready for prime time yet.

I've always enjoyed attending baseball games, but I am not as much of a fan watching baseball (at any level) on TV.

Not a picture of us, but the group in
this picture just above the Kodak
sign are sitting right where we did!
I realized why that afternevening as we watched the first game of a doubleheader from the grass berm.  Because it was a doubleheader, all of the regular seats had been sold out (this was probably also due to the fact that it was $2 Tuesdays so parking and tickets were just $2).  Our only choice was to sit in the grass berm near left field (the visitor's side).  It was very cool to be so close to the action, but also because there was enough room to sprawl out and lay down or sit up if desired.

But I'm off track ... the reason I most enjoy games AT the ball park is because of the chance to get free stuff!  Not every time (but pretty darn close) someone in the group I am with comes away with a free t-shirt, or pizza, or best-of-all a foul ball!  Thursday afternevening TWO of the three scouts that attended the game both got something!

Josh Jr got a foul ball (tossed to him from a lady who had the ball tossed to her from the Sky Sox superfan - who was hilarious but not profane - who had the ball tossed to him from the 3rd base coach).  Long route from the pitcher's hand off the hitter's bat to my son ... but he was very happy!  :)

Austin McKamey chased down a t-shirt that had been fired from near home plate and landed just a few feet in front of me.  There was a growd of kids chasing the shirt but they all overestimated the distance and only Austin was fast enough to turn around and grab the shirt.

All in all the weather cooperated (clouds rolled in to cool the temperature down but we got no rain at all), the grass berm seats were much better for the kids that attended, and the price was very right!
We even got a free ticket from a nice gentleman who recognized the scout uniforms and gave us his extra ticket for the berm.

Great scout night activity!  :)


Monday, July 18, 2011

Worst Restaurant Service EVER ?!

I've eaten at many a fine restaurant in my day.  Not on any regular basis, mind you, but often enough to know what is reasonable to expect.  Especially in terms of service and wait time and the like.

Tonight's experience at Texas Roadhouse was the worst overall experience (minus the company we had with us of course) that I have EVER HAD at ANY restaurant ... EVER !!!

Here's the short list of "things that went wrong" (if it doesn't seem short consider that we were at the restaurant for over 2 hours!):
 - Call ahead seating (what a joke!)  We asked for a time around 5:15pm and were told we had to wait until 6:15pm.  Fine.  Except that when my father-in-law called a little later to confirm the time they told him 6:00pm.  WTH ?!
 - Call ahead seating (what a joke! Part 2)  We arrived right at 6:00pm to check in ... and waited ... and waited ... and you get the idea.  At 6:30pm we were apologized to for the wait (after Karen asked what was going on).  At 6:45pm we were finally seated!
 - Seating Experience.  The table wasn't even cleared yet ... so we all stood, blocking the traffic at the front check-in are) for several minutes.  Then we stood, again, for several minutes right next to our table ... because it still wasn't set for our arrival!
 - Where is our waitress? #1.  After sitting for no less than 5 minutes, our waitress finally arrived to take drink and appetizer orders.  Then she disappeared ... for at least another 5 minutes.  The appetizers came ... without the waitress ... still no drinks.
 - Drink orders #1.  Even though she appeared to have written our orders down, the waitress brought two adult sized Cokes (no adult ordered Coke); three orange kid's sodas (only two kids ordered orange); zero Sprites (Brooklyn and I each ordered one); and only two waters (three adults had asked for water).
 - Where is our waitress AND Drink orders #2 (combined to save you time!)  After messing up the drinks the waitress disappeared again for at least another 5 minutes.  When she finally came back she brought ... wait for it ... an adult sized Sprite (correct), another adult-sized Coke (incorrect), a kid-sized Sprite (correct), and another kid-sized orange drink (incorrect).  She then took our food orders and (you guessed it) disappeared ... but for at least 10 minutes this time.
 - Where is our food? #1  A full 15 minutes after taking our orders, Karen finally got the salad that came with her meal.  And then we waited ... and waited ... and 10 more minutes later (that's right!  I timed it!) the waitress came back with some of our food.
 - Meal order mess-ups (Part 1).  Of the first group served, three orders were either incomplete or incorrect.  My mother-in-law had specifically asked for no gravy and her beef tips were swimming in the stuff.  My oldest daughter had ordered applesauce with her meal and got fries instead.  My father-in-law had ordered a medium cooked steak, but it was closer to well done than medium.
 - Drink orders #3.  About 5 minutes after the first group of food arrived, the waitress brought back refills ... and she brought two more adult-sized Cokes (again, no adults ordered Coke!) and two "extra" orange kid's sodas ... and she still had forgotten my father-in-law's water request (he had lemonade too but wanted water to cleanse his palette).  The waitress was so flustered by her own ineptitude that she spilled the two Cokes all over the floor (and a lady's purse, at the table next to us).
 - Where is our waitress? #3 AND Where is our food? #2.  At least 8 minutes after the first group ordered their food, I finally received my burger (how does a burger take longer to make than a steak?!) ... but not from the waitress because she was still no where to be found (undoubtedly hiding out of embarrasment about spilling the un-wanted and un-ordered Cokes).
 - Meal order mess-ups (Part 2).  I guess my burger took longer to cook because they had to add tomatoes (not supposed to be on the burger according to the menu) and put onions on my burger.  I was very clear in my basic order that I did not want onions!  My ordering went exactly like this: I'll have the smokehouse burger with No onions.  And yes, steak fries with that will be fine.  How hard is that to get right?!
 - Bill calculation errors.  Kids eat free and we honor your Texas Roadhouse coupons.  Yeah right!  We had four adults and four kid's meals ordered.  Only two were initially taken off the bill.  Both appetizers we ordered were supposed to be free (based on coupons we had), but neither were taken off the initial bill.  And don't get me started on the whole "two Cokes" situation!

Add to all of the above that the restaurant was crowded, the air conditioning did not appear to be turned on or working, and the tables all around us received "free appetizers" for the delays they experienced.
Worst eating out experience ever!

Mark my words here and now ... I will NEVER be going back to Texas Roadhouse again!
I think the only situation when I will change my mind on this would be if
A: I had a gift card there ... or
B: If someone else is paying and it is NOT the one on Powers Boulevard!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Too Much Basketball ?!

On Thursday I played over 4 1/2 hours of basketball.  I think (at this age anyway) that this may be too much.

I played in the afternoon for about 2.5 hours.  This was full court basketball with LOTS of open running and hustle on defense, etc.

I played again in the evening for about 2 hours, which was on a 3/4 sized court so there was much less open running, but much more physical play in such tight quarters.

I never thought it could be possible to have too much basketball ... but the way my body ached afterward (even with two ibuprofen + a 32-ounce gatorade + at least that much water in my system) I thought I might die!

Remember "that guy" from the movie
Along Came Polly ?!  I'm NOT that
hairy and I NEVER play shirtless!
On a side note (one which you will wish you hadn't read about) ... when did I start sweating so much while playing basketball?!  I never had to change shirts before but now I think I am becoming one of those guys that need to bring extra "dry" t-shirts to switch into between games.  After driving home (about 10 minutes) that evening, Karen noticed and commented on how soaked my shirt was.  Yikes!

I guess I really am getting older!  Dang it!  :)


What do you think about these haircuts ?

Yesterday morning my mother and brother took my two sons to the Final Harry Potter film.  The boys are almost 12 and almost 10 so I suppose it was okay for them to go, but they made their mom feel better about it by promising her to close their eyes for the really scary parts!  :)

Thursday afternevening I gave them both haircuts to their OWN specifications!  So here now are the final results of their decisions ... I reserve the right to "clean" them both up before church tomorrow!

Ben (9) with a mohawk.
Josh Jr (11) with the initials "H P"
(for Harry Potter, duh!)

So ... what do you think ?!  Coolest dad ever right?!  :)


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Do You Know Why I Pulled You Over ?

I am fairly certain this blog title needs virtually no explanation.  If you are a person who has never been asked that question, then consider yourself lucky (or way too cautious behind the wheel of a car).

It was a unique series of events that led to my being asked that question by the fine Officer of the Colorado Springs Police Department.  I'm not blaming anyone but me (and I told the cop it was my fault and thanked him for holding me accountable for a very poor series of decisions) ... but I thought the circumstances leading up to the situation were interesting.

I was originally going to leave work at Noon, so I could pick up my kids and go play basketball.  But Karen suggested I just go straight to basketball so I decided not to leave until about 12:15pm.

As I was getting ready to leave, I said goodbye to Ellen (the supervisor who sits in the aisle next to me) because I wouldn't see her again until next Tuesday.  This led to a short conversation with her ... until the phone at my desk rang.

I answered the phone and had a short conversation with my brother-in-law Daniel, who had a general question about Progressive EFT / Banking procedures.

This led to my leaving work later than I wanted ... but it also made me miss a text from my wife.

As I was walking to my car, my phone beeped with a reminder about that text.  I checked the message and decided to call home (it was not a happy message).

I continued talking with my wife as I was driving toward the church for basketball.  While driving and talking (bad combination, especially when emotions are high) I realized that there was construction in my lane ... so I sped up to pass the car on my left and merge before reaching the first flagman.  Because of this, I did not notice that there was a police officer on the opposite side of the street with his speed gun directed right at me.  Suffice it to say, he caught me ... and rightfully so!  I was too preoccupied to be driving safely and I deserved to be pulled over.  I'm not happy about it, but I hold no ill will at all to the policeman.

Hopefully this $130 lesson will linger for many years so I don't have to make more donations to the local police department.  :)

Crime doesn't pay ... but "criminals" sure do!

Ever Randomly Remember a Song ?

This happens to me often, probably because I love music so much.

I love how music can change your mood or help you feel any emotion more fully.

I love how music often transplants me to a different place and time.  Sometimes it is an event in my life that I had forgotten about.  Other times it is to a place I have never been but dream about going.

I love to think that my life has a movie soundtrack and that at any given moment there is a song that sums up the emotions and energy of whatever is being experienced, right THEN!

Here's a song that came to my mind, literally out of nowhere, about two weeks ago.  It has been on my mind at least once a day since then and I eventually found it on YouTube and added it to my "favorites" just so I could hear it any time I want!  For anyone who remembers this song, kudos to you!

I am not sure why this song popped into my memory, but I am very glad that it did because I still love the tune.  It makes me think about when I worked at McDonald's on 10th street in Greeley, Colorado during and after I graduated high school.  I drove "the Babemobile" which was a 1979 Toyota Corolla Hatchback ... until it became a "topless" car when my dad and I cut the top off of her one crazy Saturday!  I remember driving to and from work in that car (spray painted black with white pinstripes) and hearing this song on the radio.  I'd turn it up as loud as I could and drive around thinking about whatever girl I happened to have a crush on that week.  I never saw the movie that this was written for (Super Mario Brothers) but the song was popular enough that I heard it hundreds of times in those early 90s.  I hope you like it!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What KIND of cake ?

Sometimes questions are funny and other times they are just plain stupid.  One question I asked this evening was the latter, but my blog title was the question that was more funny.

Brittany is on the right in the "crown"
It was her birthday after all !  :)

After cooking burgers, brats, and hot dogs this evening at the VGRA pool, I got into a conversation with my niece Brittany.  She's a really sweet young woman (going to be a junior in high school this coming year) and it is fun to see her growing up.  My earliest memories with her are from when she was just 2-3 years old and I remember how much I loved picking on her at that age (just like I have with all of my own kids).

As I grilled (pun intended!) her about her "boyfriend" she shared that he was going to college this fall.  I asked where and she said "WYO Tech.  In Wyoming."  And here's the just plain stupid question I asked afterward ... "Where is that?"  She looked at me puzzled and said "In Wyoming."  See what I mean?!  My question was ... Just.  Plain.  Stupid.  :)

A little while later, my sister-in-law Mandy was talking with Brittany (and me too, but more Brittany in this example) about the plan for the upcoming birthday party for Mandy's husband Rick.
Mandy said "We'll be having cake and ice cream."
          Brittany inquired "Will it be yummy cake?"
To which Mandy replied "Yes, it will be yummy."
     Then the FUNNY part happened ...
Mandy asked Brittany "What kind of cake would you like?"

Now YOU may not find that particular question funny ...
but here is why I laughed about it.

Before Brittany could respond* I jumped in and said "Yummy!  Weren't you listening?!  She already told you that!"  We then all enjoyed a laugh about it and I think it was Brittany who asked if she should write down "yummy" so Mandy would remember what kind of cake she wanted.  :)

*Follow-up.  I did eventually let Brittany answer Mandy's very fair question.  Apparently "yummy" cake is or can include german chocolate and/or lemon pound cake with a nice sweet glaze.  There may be others but I drifted off into a sugary daydream after hearing those suggestions.  :)


Is that all I am to you ?

This evening I was greeted by one of my extended family members with a less-than-exciting sort of hello.

The exact words were "Yay, food."

I know the person didn't mean anything rude by it and they later were thankful for my cooking efforts, but it certainly didn't come across very good when it first happened.  My blog title is the question that immediately popped into my head when I was acknowledged with that greeting.

Here's the back story:
I often meet my wife and kids (after I leave work) at the local pool near my in-law's house.  Tonight was supposed to be a Movie Night (where they show a movie on an outdoor screen while people still swim, etc.)  It ended up being cancelled due to lightning and rain (just enough to justify cancelling, but not so much that anyone was ever really in any danger).

Usually for these pool nights, my wife will bring hamburgers and hot dogs for our family.  On occassion we have also provided food for extended family members.  Without intending to make a big stink of it ... there was one evening like this not long ago where three of my wife's brothers were all at the pool ... but she somehow still ended up grilling hamburgers and hot dogs for everyoneI'm not trying to be sexist, but I have to wonder how THREE grown men (all fathers no less) could sit idly by and allow their sister (whose husband was still at work and who has SIX KIDS with her at the pool) to make them dinner.

Fast forward to this evening.  I barely arrive at the pool from work and as I'm walking in, one of these extended family members welcomes me with the "Yay food!" comment.  As I said before, this person DID thank me later and I KNOW they didn't mean any harm by their comment ... but sometimes I think it is easy for ALL OF US to get lost in our own little world.

For anyone who reads this blog that I may have inadvertantly been rude or insensitive too ... I am truly sorry!  Please let me know the next time we see each other so that I can not make that kind of mistake again.  I am certain I did not intend to offend and I hope you will forgive me.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Why is she hugging Dat bear ?

Tonight we watched Star Wars (Episode 4: A New Hope) as a family.  This was partially for FHE (Family Home Evening), and partially because Karen and I have decided our kids need to be versed in "the classics."  We borrowed the trilogy (the first ones from the late 70's and early 80's) from Karen's brother Brian and have plans to watch all three episodes, with the kids, in the next 1-2 weeks.  I'll do another post at some point about the other movies Karen and I have deemed "classics" but for now I wanted to explain the blog title.

Catalina, who recently turned 4 years old, has a limited understanding of these films.  So throughout the evening she was asking questions that a four-year old might ask.  "Is dat a bad guy?"  "Are dem friends?"  "Who cut him arm off?"  "Is him da good guy?"  "Is dat guy dead now?"  "Why him so sad?"  and on and on and ON!

By far the most amusing of these questions was her sincere inquiry that is the title of this blog.  She asked the question after the scene where Luke Skywalker and Han Solo shoot the Imperial fighter jets out of the sky.  After showing Luke and Han celebrating, the movie switches to a shot of Princess Leia hugging Chewbacca.  And Cat wanted to know why "dat lady" was huggeen "dat bear."

I love her questions!  They're funny but also very sincere!  :)


How Is It Possible ?

This morning I finally got my permanent crown on at the dentist.  It was actually as good of an experience as I could possibly imagine having, even considering I had to have a filling done too.  But this blog isn't about that experience ... it's about what happened after I left the dentist today.

On the way home from the dentist I got a wild hair.  No, not one growing out of my clean(ish)-shaved scalp, but one of those ideas to do something seemingly out of the blue.  I decided it was time to clean my car.  No, it would be better to call it "detailing" because this was the most deep-cleaning my car has seen since ... well ... ever !

I'll spare you the details of the experience of cleaning every nook and cranny in my car.  What I wanted to share was the interesting paperwork and assorted items I found.  Among those things I located as I cleaned out everything in my car were the following (with what I found the most interesting saved for last):
 - A roll of Ace Bandage wrap (about 5 feet long).
 - A presidential dollar coin.
 - A green, size medium Fender guitar pick.
 - Three pencils (two unsharpened).
 - A pencil box filled with dry erase markers.
 - Three pens (all without caps).
 - A Snickers bar (which I delivered today to my sister Jaimee ... don't worry little sis, I got it brand new last Friday at work so it's not that old or anything!)
 - My cigarette lighter for the car (it's a 1997 Mercury Tracer so they still had those instead of auxiliary ports).
 - A bicycle owner's manual from Josh Jr Ben now Brooklyn's bike.
 - Directions to the Father's and Son's campout for Stetson Hills ward ... from August of 2006!
 - The original insurance ID cards for my car ... and one for the Trans Am !
 - A receipt for a burger at Conway's Red Top ... from May of  2005 !
 - Colorado Registration papers from random years, including 1998 (when I first registered my car!)
 - Two umbrellas.
 - Two window ice scrapers (one big, one very small).
 - A replacement light bulb for any of my four turn signals.
 - A business card for the guy who has moved my pool table ... twice.
 - And finally ... the most incredible find ...
every ... single ... oil change receipt ... since I bought my car!

I have no idea how it happened that I kept all of them.  It certainly wasn't planned.  Each time they change the oil (at Jiffy Lube, in case you were wondering) they present you with a pink sheet (carbon copy) with dot matrix printing that shows what you had done at the "shop" that day.  I just take them and fold them in fourths and place them in the lower compartment on the front passenger side door.  And there they have been collected every 3-4 months for the past 13+ years.  I know it's not like finding buried treasure or the Titanic or anything, but it was very interesting for me.

Maybe I should "deep clean" my car more often!  :)