Friday, September 30, 2011

Isn't She Lovely ?!

That's a great song by Stevie Wonder, but last Saturday that is what I was thinking about my lovely oldest daughter Brooklyn Rose Case!

She was baptized that day, by me, and the spirit was very strong at that special event.  I was, and am, so proud of her for deciding to be baptized and follow her Savior Jesus Christ's example.

Her mother did her hair the following day in a "crown" which, you can see, covers her whole head and makes her look even more beautiful!

Congratulations Brooklyn on your special day and thank you for letting me play such a special role as your father in this historic occasion!

You'll always be my little girl!  :)


Wait, you say WHAT ?!

I love Catalina, my 4 year old daughter!  She always has a neverending list of blog-worthy and completely random outbursts.

The following pictures include captions that explain what she was trying to convey to me in the drive back to our house after Missy Campanella's baptism (which was awesome BTW!)  We were all laughing so hard in the car because she just kept saying "KAPLOOEY !!!"

Here is Cat's explanation of
what she is doing in this picture:
so dere is yots of peepol an dey din'nt yisten
so dey coonent get owt uh duh haoyus.

And the next part (according to Cat):
dis is da pawt wheya da famiyee is pusheen
deya thinkin' to the neck one in da yine
And the grand finale, the big wrap up, the final scene:
an' so now dey is pusheen it and da fing goes
BLOOM ayall ova da grayaas and it got dowty
ayan den dey awall saye KABLOOO-EEEY !

The best is, after all this explanation, I asked her "Why are you doing that?!"  Her reply was priceless and here it is as best as I can spell it the way she says it (in her improper speech):
Dats what I sayee when I soooo essighted ...


Do you use Pie Charts ?

Probably not like this ....

Now that's my kind of Pie Chart !!!  :)

Shout out to my cousin Lester for the great blog idea!  Check out his blog HERE if you like this kind of funny stuff.  He does a post every day (much more consistently than me!) and they are always amusing!  :)

A completely "non-smoker" Bowling Team ?

I'm writing this blog for two reasons.
First, these shirts that my current peer group are wearing each Tuesday to support our "Aux Bowling" contest are too cool/funny/weird/outrageous NOT to share with the world.
Second, I realized the other day that this is the very first DRG (Direct Reporting Group) I have been in at work where NONE of the members are smokers.

L-R ... Me (Big Daddy), Bill (BeerFrame Bill),
Ellen (Striker), Mark M (King Pin), Bryan (Mr Lucky),
Mark F (Markless), and Alicia (Alley Cat)

On the first point, my boss ordered these shirts for us and we all agreed on the pink "accent" color because it really pops!  Last week we all wore them to take pictures and walking around the site at work it was kinda cool to have people ask "what's up with those shirts?"

On the second point, I'm not saying that smokers are bad or anything of the sort.  I've blogged before about how it is their choice to smoke and I respect it (even if I don't like it at all).  I just think it is interesting that in over 5 years of being a Supervisor, I've never had a DRG where all of the members didn't smoke.  I am not making any other point than that ... it's just interesting ... that's all.

So combine the two thoughts and you have the title of today's blog post.  I am not trying to be stereotypical of bowling teams, but generally those leagues involve smoking and drinking, etc.  So I thought it was also interesting that our naturally non-smoker DRG has "bowling league" shirts.


Remember your 2011 New Year's Goals ?

At the very start of this year I blogged about my goals for 2011.  At the time I knew I wouldn't achieve them all, but I wanted to set some realistic but challenging goals for myself.

At the end of the first four months of the year I blogged about my progress on those goals.  I was moderately pleased overall with my progress.

It is now virtually October and I think it's high time for a check-in on those goals.  Plus it's an easy blog to complete in an attempt to get enough posts done today to "catch up" for the month of September!  :)

Goal #1 -- Blog more.
The summer was rough for consistently posting blogs and there were multiple times when I did what I like to call a "Blog Blowout!"  With that said, I'm only about 10 days "behind" for the year, so I'm crushing this goal!
Score = Getting it DONE !!!

Goal #2 -- Control my basketball temper.
Okay ... I know that I had ONE incident where I lost control of myself, but weighed against the MANY times I just shut my mouth or walked away from the situation, I'm feeling okay about this one.
Score = Feels Better ... for now

Goal #3 -- Spend more "quality time"
with my wife and children.
I'd better check with the "experts" on this, but of my own estimation of what this goal meant to me I still feel like I'm doing very well.  Lots of activities with individual kids and/or by myself with Karen.  Of course there could always be more, but I'm mostly satisfied with where I'm at.
Score = Lookin' good!

Goal #4 -- Run at least three 5K races.
5K #1 was completed with my little sister Jaimee last month!  The next two are in October and November, but I haven't registered for the Oct one so I'd better get on that!  I haven't "run" much at all, but I've modified this goal as more of a support for my sister (and eventually my wife - when she's ready to run).
Score = Glad I didn't say run "fast" in three 5K races!

Goal #5 -- Say a sincere "Thank You"
to a different person each day.
I tried to track this in July and it's just so hard to track while also keeping the thank you sincere.  I've got to figure out a way to tie this into my should-be-daily blogs.  Hopefully I have a plan in place for that heading into next year.
Score = I'm sure thankful, but I'm still not saying it enough.

Goal #6 -- Live worthy of the Priesthood I hold EVERY day.
Many different life experiences in the past few months have helped strengthen my resolve to achieve this goal EVERY DAY through the remainder of this year.  Since April, I've been mediocre to poor (on my interpretation of what I'm striving for) on this one.  Brooklyn's baptism was a potential "game changer" though!  :)
Score = Daily goals require DAILY effort ... you can do it!

Goal #7 -- Add body mass (preferably muscle)
and reach my target weight of 180 pounds.
I met this goal around the middle of the year.  I also met the goal around my middle and went past the balanced place I wanted to land on.  BUT ... I did meet the goal, so here's a shout out to getting older and slowed metabolism!  :)
Score = The pendulum swung a little too far, but I made it!

Goal #8 -- Read at least 3 books
that I have never read before.
I met this goal before the end of April ... and haven't really read much of anything since then.  But I don't really care ... 3 books is plenty ... I'll do more next year!
Score = Still a Success !!!

Goal #9 -- Complete at least ONE "project"
with each of my six children.
Josh Jr ... LOTS of scouting stuff
Ben ... also, lots of scouting stuff
Brooklyn ... that's it!  It's time to buy paint and do her room!
Savannah ... she and I have colored several pictures together and at 6 years old I think that's good enough!  :)
Catalina ... oy!  She did help me make pancakes once ... and we hung up pictures in her room ... and I read her some books ... maybe that's enough?
Myra ... if "getting her to go to sleep" is a "project" then, done and DONE !!!
Score = 5 Down, 1 "big one" To Go

Goal #10 -- Attend the Denver LDS Temple
at least once per month.
The picture below says it all ... can I go 3 for 3 in the remainder of the year?

Score = Hoping for a repentant final stretch

Overall, I'm very pleased.  I know I haven't gotten everything done, but I also know I have done more than I ever would have if these goals hadn't been written and reported out on.  I think I'll keep this as a regular part of my blogs next year, but maybe do a one-month check-in so I can keep up on some of the time-sensitive goals better.

How are YOUR goals progressing ?!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

What's your Timeline ?

I've been thinking alot about "time" lately and how we either are controlled by it or control it ourselves.

Some folks live minute-to-minute, perhaps with only the goal to survive.

Some folks live on an hourly basis, going from appointment to meeting in an 8:00am - 5:00pm sort of world.

Some folks live day-to-day, with a slightly broader perspective of time, but still focused on what "tomorrow" might bring.

Yet others live weekly or monthly or even quarterly (people that work in the financial arena probably focus on things one quarter at a time ... although maybe not a calendar quarter but with more of a 25-cents-at-a-time mentality).

I've decided that my life is a week-to-week world right now, and there are many reasons for this:
First, in my line of work the "week" is very well defined.  I have weekly metric results for my team.  There are activities I complete once per week.  And my work week is five-days straight (from Tuesday to Saturday).
Second, my family has almost everything based on a weekly schedule (although my wife would probably say it is more day-to-day for her).  Scouts is on Wednesdays.  Cheerleading and Choir are 1-2 times per week.  School celebrations are "weekly" events (like this being Spirit Week).
Third, on the spiritual side of things, each week begins with attendance at church and the start of another opportunity to live righteously.  It is easy to "start over" on things, like scripture study or family prayers, on a Sunday evening and think about only having to carry that through for a week (and worry about doing it longer after the following Sunday).

So what's your timeline?  Are you living day-to-day?  Or are you in such a great place that you can live year-to-year or beyond?  That is a worthy goal, but one I'll have to consider striving for ... maybe next week.  :)


Remember these books ?

I used to LOVE "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.  There was, when I was a kid at least, a whole series of these books and I used to literally read them over and over and over againIf you've never read one, then you would not understand why that last line is so amusing.

With CYOA books, you read a very short story to begin with and then get to a point where you must choose one of two options.  Each option will continue the story by telling you which page in the book to turn to.  Then you will read a page or two and be given another choice to make.  This repeats until the story ends, which is usually in one of about 4 or 5 different ways.

I would read these books over and over and over again to see if I could find a way to get to each ending.  You couldn't just read the book in order to find the endings because they wouldn't really make sense unless you "got there" through a series of experiences based on choices you had made.

I've been thinking alot lately that LIFE is just a huge version of these CYOA books.  You could argue that not all decisions you made had that big of an impact on where your life is now, but you cannot argue that you arrived where you are totally against your will.  YOU made the choices that led you to where you are at THIS VERY MOMENT and you "own" them.  Sometimes you don't have to be very far down that "wrong choice path" before you wish you had chosen differently, but you have to live with what you decided.

This is a movie I had
watched a long time ago
where this man's life is
dramatically different due
to just one event
being changed.
Hopefully, you can look back on the choices you've made and be proud of them, or at least agree that you wouldn't have changed them because you like where they have led you.  That is the case with me (no pun intended).  Even the unquestionably "bad" decisions I have made shaped my current life.  As much as I'd like to change them, I worry that they would have somehow kept me from the wonderful life I am living right now and so I am inclined to just want to leave them alone.


Did we get it ALL ?

I am making a small assumption that most married couples share the same tube of toothpaste.  Please inform me if you do not (because perhaps we've been doing it "wrong" all these years!)  :)

For the last week or so, Karen and I have been squeezing the literal last tiny fragments of toothpaste out of our current tube.  We've never really done this before (usually we just toss it and grab another tube from under her sink) and I can't speak for Karen, but for me it became somewhat of a challenge: who was going to have to get the new tube to get some toothpaste?!  Not me !!!  :)

I can't really say why we didn't just swap it out.  It's not like toothpaste is expensive or that we didn't have another brand new, fully filled tube ready and waiting in the wings.  We just ... didn't ... change it out.

I wonder if other married couples out there play similar "silly" games with one another.  Do you leave just a tiny bit of milk in the carton so you don't have to get more?  Do you use a different bathroom so you don't have to replace the toilet paper roll?  Do you stretch the trash bag in the kitchen to it's maximum threshold so you don't have to take it outside?  Do you pile dishes in the sink creatively so you don't have to load the dishwasher?  Do you volunteer for the "wet" diapers so you can avoid the "poopy" ones?


When is it Time to Potty Train ?

I don't know the actual answer, but here's my take on it based on my experiences in the past few days with my 15-month old daughter Myra.

Here are some indications that it is time to potty-train your child:
 - If they LAUGH when you are changing their diaper.
 - If they smile or giggle at you when you ask them if they are "poopy"
 - If they find a "hiding place" to "do their business"
 - If they wake up dry ... after 8 hours of sleep.
 - If they bring you the diaper and/or wipes to be changed.
 - If they can SAY the words "poopy" or "diaper" or the phrase "Change me!"

Sadly, all but one of those things has actually happened to me (with Myra) in the past few weeks.  I think it's time to at least get her started on the process.

Not it!

Maybe that'll work and now Karen has to potty train Myra!  :)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why Do I Even PLAY ?!

Yes, this is another post about basketball.

No, it never gets old for me.

You have to be willing to tolerate all kinds of "ailments" if you want to play basketball like I play basketball.  From my earliest memories of the game, it has always been anything but a "non-contact" sport.  There's bumping, pushing, slapping, kicking, backing into, driving through, grabbing, and so on.  If you've never "hit the floor" while playing basketball then you're not giving it your all !!!

This was takenThursday evening
about 2 hours after I got "hit"
 Herewith are the list of current (just the past 2 weeks) ailments I have from playing basketball:
 - A monstrous black eye
 - A sore right index finger
 - Three canker sores from cuts in my mouth
 - Athlete's foot feet
 - Hypersensitive bruise on my left knee
 - And general stiffness in my shoulders, lower back, and for some unknown reason my right forearm.

This was taken 3 days later
(I looked like I was wearing makeup!)

I can recall a few years ago talking to my oldest son about the sport of basketball.  He had been playing with some kids at school on the playground, but decided he didn't like it much because "they keep pushing me and sometimes hitting me when I'm trying to shoot."  I tried to explain to him that if he liked this sport and wanted to be good at it, he would have to get used to the physical aspects of it.  Sadly, he is built like me (super-thin) which lends itself to quite a bit of time "on the floor" and limited ability to "move" others like they move you.  He does have much more height than I had at his age so there's still hope if he decides to follow his old man's passion.  But I understand if he declines because it is a wonder why anyone would subject themselves to such physical torment.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ever Played "Shenanigans" ?!

I probably should have researched that name to see if it is trademarked, or if there is a board game of the same name out there in the big ol' world.  But it won't change the fact that that is the name of the game we have been playing lately when our "game group" gets together.

Karen wants to "market" the game, but it wasn't our idea to begin with.  We have modified it in several ways since the first time it was taught to us (in a "game group" with totally different people than our current group), but the premise is basically the same so I cannot take credit.  In truth, I wish I could remember the names of the couple who taught it to us so I could give them a shout out here and a huge thank you bouquet of whatever-they-like because it is a GREAT game for large crowds of people!

First, let me just clarify that our "game group" is a non-exclusive group of couples and families that get together periodically (it is pretty random but around once every 1-3 months) to hang out and play games.  We've had lots of different families in it (many that have sadly moved away) but we were not in the original group that got together many years ago.  The group has kinda just evolved to include other couples and families.  The best way to be included is to host everyone at your house (which is how we have become "regulars" in our current group).  Last night we had about 8 different families (or part of the families since some folks had prior commitments) and a total of about 40 - 50 people (mostly kids who played downstairs while the adults played Shenanigans).  It was awesome!

No, this is NOT the way to play Shenanigans the Game!  :)

Now then, Shenanigans is a perfectly simple game ...
once you learn how to play it.

The setup only requires:
 - two containers (any shape or size will do)
 - pens or pencils (only to start with)
 - slips of paper (cut several regular pieces of paper into about 8-10 strips each)
 - and your guests' memories.
Each guest will write down on individual strips of paper one of the following:
 - a movie quote, or a song title, or a book title, or a movie title, or a commercial tagline, or a famous phrase in history (etc. etc. etc.)
The key is that each "clue" should not be too short (less than 3 words) or too long (more than 10 words) and should be something everyone would know.  Each player should come up with 1, 2, or 3 "clues" (the goal is to have enough total "clues" that each person will have multiple times to give clues and guess clues).  Place all of the clues in one of the containers.
Lastly you need to agree on a way to separate your group into two teams.  Guys versus girls usually works well, but you can do it Family Feud style or by age ... whatever makes sense and is easy-to-remember!

The game play works like this.  There are three rounds (with two options for a 4th round in the event of a tie at the end of 3 rounds ... which happens surprisingly often).
In Round One the clue giver is allowed to say anything except the phrase itself to get you to guess the clue they have drawn (think "Password" and you'll have the idea).  After the clue is successfully guessed, the bucket moves to the next person on that team and they draw a clue and play continues in the same manner.  After ONE MINUTE, collect the correctly answered clues and put them in the "other" container and then it is the other team's turn.  Score the total correct answers after each round.  This round is over when all clues have been guessed.  Now the real fun begins ...
In Round Two you will use the same clues and each person will again take turns getting their team to guess the clue they draw.  In this round, you follow standard "Charades" rules.  Again this round is over when all clues have been guessed, with each team still having just one minute at a time to get as many clues as they can.
In Round Three it gets even more challenging!  The timing, scoring, and end of this round are exactly the same as in prior rounds but the twist is this ... each clue giver is only allowed to say ONE WORD as the clue to their team.  If you accidentally say "Um" or "Crap" or "Hmmmm" ... that's your clue !!!  Stop talking and pray your team gets it (or just "pass" and put your clue back in the container for the next player to draw from).

Breaking ties can be done with one of the following optional Bonus Rounds:
Option One: Using the same clues, follow the "All Play" Pictionary rules.  Alternate artists between your teams for each new clue.  Most correctly guessed clues at the end wins the game.
Option Two: Using the same clues, repeat Round Three (one word clues, one person at a time, but with NO time limit) as an "All Play" version (first person to guess correctly gets the point for their team regardless of which team gave the clue).  The container of clues is simply passed around the circle/table (it does not matter if clues are given by several of the same team in a row because the score is given based on who correctly guesses the clue).

It may not seem "simple" at all, but you can't knock it until you've tried it!  This group works great for as small of a group as 8 people and we've played with as many as 22 people, which worked just as well.
So get a "game group" together (call us and we'll be happy to come play and teach this game to your whole party!) and play some Shenanigans!  You'll thank me later!  :)


Heaven or Hell ?

I've thought about doing this blog for a while but wanted the right context.  The past few days have included several discussions with a variety of different people on the subject of these two presumed "final states" we can end up in after this life.
 - Heaven being that beautiful Utopia that you alone envision wherein you can live a life of luxury doing whatever you truly want to for the rest of eternity.
 - Hell being that place where you will forever dwell in pain and agony, which may include physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and other types of suffering.

I could write this blog on the concept of each, or expound on my belief that we'll all be in the same place after we die but it is our perception of whether that is heaven or hell that will make the difference for us in the eternities ... but I'm not in a "deep thoughts" kind of mood.  No, this blog is simply a collection of some of my favorite songs that include the word Heaven or Hell.  I hope you enjoy at least some of them.

The "Heaven" Songs
Heavenly by Harry Connick Jr
Heaven is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle
My Blue Heaven by Harry Connick Jr
Heaven Is by OMD
Just Like Heaven by The Cure
How Far Is Heaven? by Los Lonely Boys
Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton

The "Hell" Songs
(I included "devil" songs so I could have an even numbered list)
Gives You Hell by All American Rejects
What the Hell?! by Avril Lavigne
Highway to Hell by AC/DC
Devil Went Down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band
Devil Inside by INXS
Devil with the Blue Dress by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
Devil in Disguise by Elvis Presley

Okay ... so there's some pretty convincing arguments that Heaven makes for much better song titles.  I know there are dozens more songs in each category, but these are the ones that "make the grade" for me ... looking at the overall lists I would say that Heaven Wins !!!  :)


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why are you so ... OLD ?!

Yesterday was my 35th birthday.  If you're on Facebook, or follow my brother's blog, or have a calendar that reminds you, or if you saw me yesterday ... then this is not news to you.

Birthdays are funny things.

Some of them are super exciting.
I remember my 12th birthday, when I received the Aaronic Priesthood at church and had my first opportunity to pass the Sacrament.
I remember my 16th birthday and being able to drive (legally) for the first time.
I remember my 19th birthday, when I was finally old enough to serve a mission for my church.

Some of them are disappointing.
I remember my 22nd birthday, when I was newly married but still had to work the whole day!
I remember my 30th birthday, when I was no longer "young."  (But that day was very good because Karen whisked me away on a romantic weekend).

Some of them are just "there"
to remind you it's been another year.
I remember ... none of these, because they weren't really noteworthy!

And some birthdays have no expectations
associated with them, but turn out to be just
fantastic days filled with fun, food, and family!
I remember ... my 35th birthday ... like it was yesterday!  :)

I had a super great day!  It wasn't perfect, but then it wouldn't be "life" if it was.  The morning began with some basketball (during which I played horribly but I got lots of exercise in so that's always a great start to the day!)  Then I had to head off to work for a few hours, but the conversations with my team members were very enjoyable.  After work I tried to sneak in a short round of golf at a Par 3 course, but it was "closed" due to a tournament (on a Par 3 course?!  Really?!  Whatever!)
The board game VIKINGS ... fun!
So I came home and just hung out with my family, playing some Dr Mario with Karen and my two sons (congrats on your wins against me Ben!)  I then cooked steak (I wanted to grill and Karen was nice enough to let me), hamburgers, and hot dogs for dinner ... which we shared with our good friends the Browns (Jeff, Tiffany, and their kiddos!)  We then played the game Vikings (my choice) with them ... and I actually won the second game (Karen slaughtered us on the first game with a HUGE come-from-behind victory!)  I'll not mention the wasted time watching the BYU football debacle.  And then Karen and I were able to spend some time together, just the two of us, which is a great way to end a great day!

By the way ... the title of this post comes from the movie Despicable Me ... and it has become my favorite line to quote on birthdays.
Props to Rachel Sorensen for knowing that and making that her comment to me on Facebook!  :)


Who's Got the Solo ?

Today in church ... I will be singing ... a SOLO ... as part of our musical number.

I.  Am.  NERVOUS !!!

I love singing, but I do NOT believe I have a very good, strong voice.  I can "carry a tune" but I definitely think I sound better harmonizing with others and/or singing in "the background."

This whole thing came about because I had taught a lesson to my 11-year old Sunday School class about "The Parable of the Talents."  If you are unfamiliar with this Biblical story, here is my brief summary:
     Jesus taught about a Lord who had three servants.  He gave each of them "Talents" to use.  They received 5, 2, and 1 "talent" respectively.  After a period of time they were to return to their Lord and reconcile what they had done with these "talents."  The servant with 5 returned with 5 more ... and was blessed.  The servant with 2 returned with 2 more ... and was blessed.  But the servant with 1 "talent" had hid it in the earth and returned with just that one ... and he was considered an unwise servant.

Now I know that "talents" can refer to many different things, but one of those certainly can be the "gifts" we've been blessed with by our Father in Heaven.  I know that one of my "gifts" is an ear for and a love of music.  To avoid being an "unwise" servant, I MUST work to build on that "talent" rather than hiding it.  Which is why, several months ago, I agreed to sing this solo ... despite my absolute terror about singing by myself in front of a whole crowd of people.

So wish me well on expanding my comfort zone today as I sing ... (all alone!) ... in front of 100 - 200 people this afternoon.  And if you hear my "exercising my talent to sing" please try to be as supportive as you can and KNOW that I am very self conscious about my ability to sing.  But I am TRYING!  :)


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why does she Spoil me so ?

Yesterday I wasn't having what you would call "the best day."  It wasn't really BAD for any particular reason ... it was ... just ... not ... good.

I got a text from my beautiful wife Karen asking how my day was (this is a semi-regular occurrence).  I said it was a "blah" kind of day ... and so she offered to bring me lunch at work (which is WAY out of her way) ... her treat!

The J.J. Gargantuan ... mmm!
I dunno ... to some of you that might not seem like "much" but it meant the WORLD to me yesterday!  Add to it the fact that she asked what I wanted (I chose Jimmy Johns) and then had bacon added to my sandwich as an added little bonus!  I was dumbfounded and extremely grateful.

We shared our lunch (eating in the car because Myra was asleep) in the parking lot and just chatted about nothing in particular.  It totally lifted my spirits for the rest of the day and was a great reminder why I was so desperate to marry her in the first place ... she ... just ... makes ... me ... smile!  I love being around her and/or spending time with her!

Thank you Pretty Lady for spoiling me so much,
especially when I don't deserve it!


How do I always run out ?!

On occasion, I will "treat" myself and pick up some cream cheese and bagels to eat throughout the week.  I'm generally a plain bagel fan, but only because I like the Honey Nut cream cheese spread and it just doesn't taste as good on other kinds of store-bought bagels.

My favorite bagel is the Cinnamon Crunch bagel from Panera Bread, topped with their whipped Honey Walnut cream cheese ... but those are way more expensive than I can realistically treat myself too.  And they don't really keep for a whole week in my desk drawer.

The point of this blog though is this ... I always seem to run out of cream cheese before I run out of bagels!

I buy the 8oz tub of cream cheese and one 6-pack of plain bagels.  And apparently that is NOT the right ratio.

So then why do they sell the bagels in 6-packs and the cream cheese in 8oz tubs?!

The 16oz tub is way too big for 6 bagels, and I've no desire to eat 12 bagels and get a 16oz tub + an 8oz tub (which would make things come out just about even).

It's like the scene in Father of the Bride where Steve Martin's character goes NUTS in the grocery store about packages of 8 hot dogs matched up with packages of 12 hot dog buns.  What the heck?!  Stop commisserating to make us go crazy you food processing people!


A Blog About Food ?

What a brilliant idea!

My buddy, Matt Barlow, travels A LOT for work.  This affords him the "opportunity" to eat out at restaurants across the country.  He's not a "food critic" in the traditional sense, but he does have a similar taste (mostly ... he definitely likes spicier food than I) to mine for good food.

Today I was able to "catch up" on his first dozen-plus blogs about his food experiences.  And it made me SOOOO hungry!  :)

Be sure to check his blog out HERE if you like food and would be interested in reading about it from a "normal" human being and not a "paid food critic."

Thanks Matt for making my mouth water!  Your blog is fun to read but also will be useful down the road when I find myself in any of the cities you've visited.  Thanks for making it easy to pull your blogs by city too!  :)


What is your Money worth ?

I might be a hypocrite.  I might be a cheapskate.  I might be an overspender.  I might be subject to the whims of any given situation.  I might be confused about the value of a dollar.

But I AM aware that there is a direct proportional relationship between my concern about the "cost" of something and the total dollar amount being spent.  And it is an ILLOGICAL relationship.
Consider the following and let me know if you are like me (and if so, let me know how we can get out of this odd pattern of behavior!):

 - I will order fast food off the dollar menu
so I can eat for $3 instead of $5
 - I will gladly pay $15 to play 9 holes of golf,
instead of just $9 to play the Par 3 course.

 - I will drink water with my meal at a "sit down"
restaurant, to avoid paying the 200% markup
on a cup of soda (saving myself maybe $2-$3)
 - I will stop by Sonic during Happy Hour and
pay that same 200% markup for a Green Apple
Slush (when I could make my own at home for
pennies on the dollar)

 - I will cancel cable tv, DirecTV, or any other
satellite-type of broadcasting in order to save
roughly $100 a month
 - I thought nothing of the $150 a month we
pay for PMI (Principal Mortgage Insurance)
on our still new to us home.

There are literally hundreds of other examples, but these few illustrate my concern that I am not consistent AT ALL when it comes to the value of my dollarsHow can I be such a penny pincher when it comes to certain things (food, entertainment, clothes, etc.) and then turn around and throw money away on other stuff (food, entertainment, etc.) ?!

I understand the concept of supply and demand.  I know that "wanting" something makes us more willing to pay for it "on the spur of the moment."  But even outside of those situations, I don't get nit-picky nearly enough to call myself a savvy consumer.  Worse yet, I'll buy things "on sale" only to forget I have them and let them go to waste (I've tossed more than a half-dozen pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream).

Anyone have any suggestions for how to change this?  Is there a way to at least be more consistent?  A dollar should be worth a dollar no matter where I'm spending it.  I don't want the total amount being spent to lessen the value of each individual dollar.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's wrong with being a "fair-weather" fan ?

Way to "jump on the bandwagon."

You're just a "fair weather fan."

I say ...

I enjoy watching athletes (gender does not matter) compete, especially at the "top level" of their discipline (I would say "sport" but that starts a whole battle I prefer not to get into).  There is something gratifying about seeing someone actually achieve the success they have spent hours practicing for.  In no other area of life are we able witness THAT moment.

I am a fan of several teams.  I've been a BYU Cougar fan since Vai Sikahema was running back punt returns for touchdowns and before Shawn Bradley or "The Jimmer" lit up the college basketball scene.  I swore I'd never be a Denver Broncos fan, but when they changed their uniforms and helmet logo I converted.  At various times I have been a Chicago Bulls fan, a Utah Jazz fan (not at the same time of course), and a Denver Nuggets fan.  I love my Colorado Rockies (especially because I've seen most of those players at AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox games!)

But my favorite team has always been ... the underdog!

I love upsets, but I get upset when "my" team gets upset.  I mean I really get upset.  Or at least I used to.  I would invest 2-4 hours of my time to watch a game, only to hate myself later for wasting all that time (if my team lost).  After years of this experience I gained wisdom (you can call it something else if you prefer) and I no longer root for "my" team.  Instead, I root for exciting plays and exceptional competition.

I have found that watching college football is a much more enjoyable experience now.  I can get just as excited when the "underdog" dominates a POWERHOUSE team, as the excitement I feel when the higher ranked team makes a spectacular comeback to save their perfect record.  This works for other sports too.  At the Winter or Summer Olympics, it doesn't matter deeply to me if the USA team comes in second, as long as everyone is trying their hardest and pushing the competition level to newer heights.

So call me a "fair weather" fan, but know this ... at least some of the time, you and I will be rooting for the same team.  You can either enjoy that excitement with me or not.  But I will sleep good that night no matter which team wins!


Monday, September 12, 2011

How do you open your Fortune Cookie ?

I bet you don't do it like me.

But if you do, let me know ... 'cause then we can be cool together!

Here's a picture ... notice the wrapper is unopened and the cookie still has nice bite-sized pieces (which I will never eat because they taste disgusting!)

If you can't make out the "fortune" it reads:
Life to you is a dashing, bold adventure.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What Two Items would YOU choose ?

This past Thursday at work I attended a meeting with my soon-to-be boss' boss' boss (the Manager of our newly formed Onboarding Group).  As usual at these kinds of meetings, he wanted us to introduce and say a little bit about ourselves ... but his creative twist on this was to have everyone bring two items that will "help describe who we are and what is important to us."

I have to admit I struggled with this, even though I knew it was more of an ice-breaker activity and not something that was SUPER IMPORTANT (in the grand scheme of things anyway).

At length, I decided on the following:
 - My Progressive shirt of the day (since I always wear Progressive attire that was an easy one to say that representing Progressive is who I am and what is important to me).
 - The following two pictured items (they really do go together!):

This is a birthday (or Father's Day) card that
Ben (6 or 7 at the time) made for me.
I LOVE how he spelled "special."

And the above pictures are the "re-created" version
of that same card by my team at work.
(From the same year, for Boss' Day)

I just didn't have any idea what to choose as the ONE best item to represent the importance of my family and how THEY are who I am.  But I was happy with what I landed on because it went over well (everyone chuckled) and gave me a chance to speak about my TWO "families" - the eternal one (Karen and the kids) and the work one.


Friday, September 9, 2011

When did THIS start happening ?!

A few weeks ago I was using a tiny mirror at my desk to clean some goop out of my eye (if you think that's gross you better quit reading!) ... and I noticed something that I thought could NOT be what it appeared to beBut it was!

Here is what I saw:

Right there at the top of the picture ...

I swear I'm not old enough for this!  I have been slowly collecting gray hairs in my hairline above my ears and my dark, dark beard is continually turning more salt than pepper.  But I think those "changes" look good!  Bring on the whitish-gray "old guy" hair color.

This rogue eyebrow junk, however, is for the birds!  They can take their ear hair homeboys (none yet, but worried more than ever now) and extra-long nose hair friends (sad to say I've plucked more than a few of these) to any party that is nowhere near my person!

Wrinkles are welcome.  My receding hairline will just make it easier to shave my head.  Heck, I'll even wear glasses again (for reading and stuff) ... but I don't want to become this guy ...

Nobody wants to become ...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remember The Cosby Show ?

Another cool thing about Instant Netflix through the Wii is that there are many old TV series' that are available.  One of my all time favorites (and even moreso now that I can appreciate the humor from the "parents" side of things) is The Cosby Show.

We made the kids watch a few episodes this past Sunday afternoon and I thought we got mixed reviews.  The kids didn't LOL very much (like they do with more recent shows).

I was mistaken.

They LOVE the show!

I found this out yesterday evening when I gave the kids the choice to "go play" or "maybe watch some Cosby show on Netflix."  They all shouted: Cosby Show!  :)

I like that the topics of the shows are still very relevant.  One episode was about Clair (the mom) feeling overwhelmed by being a mom and full-time lawyer all at the same time.  Another episode was about Theo (the teenage "middle child") learning lessons about getting good grades in school and doing your best instead of just the minimum.  The last episode we watched had me in stitches!  It was about all the terrible Father's Day gifts Cliff (Bill Cosby's character) has received over the years from his thoughtless children.  The most funny part was Rudy (the "baby" girl) getting him tennis balls.  She was adorable!  :)

There are over 200 episodes of this show, so I am certain we'll be watching them all as a family in the coming months and year(s).  I know there are episodes that teach important lessons.  Hopefully they lead to conversations where I can further connect with my kids about "life" in general.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ever Written a Song Parody ?

One of the local radio stations is doing a contest for Weird Al concert tickets, which include backstage passes to a meet-and-greet with the man himself.
I've long been a fan of his (I can remember saving money to buy his new audio cassette tapes, like "Fat" and the "UHF" soundtrack).

The contest is simple:
submit your own, original song parody.

So here is my humble entry.  It is titled "Hood Life" and is sung to the tune of "Good Life" by Onerepublic.  I absolutely LOVE that song, but thought the best parody would be to turn such an upbeat song into a dismal narrative on street living.  If I was doing it professionally, I would replace the whistling parts of the song with ambulance and police car sirens.  Here is a link to the original song on youtube so you can try to sing along using the words below.

Woke up in L.A. yesterday
Found myself in an alley down from the valley
Don't really know how I got here
Can't find my wallet or my phone

Got cuts and bruises and broken bones
Sick to my stomach, I wanna go home
Day turns to night, night brings out all the rival gangs
And you can hear them say

Oh this has gotta be the hood life
This has gotta be the hood life
This could really be a hood life, hood life

Say OW! I got this knife wound from a bad fight
Bullets flyin' in the city tonight
This could really be the hood life
A hood, hood life

And here is the rest of the song (On the radio they said to just send one verse and the chorus, which is the above section, but I'm not one to do anything just halfway!)

To all the thugs in New York, I say Whoa!
Bloods and Crips in L.A. and they ho's
Wherever you've been in the past year or so
Stay the #=!! out of Col-or-ado !

Sometimes there's snitches that rat you out
Sometimes there's police on my tail now
We are gods of these streets but tell me-e-e-e
What's this graffiti all about ?

When you're on drugs you're a fool
And they take you over
When everyone is out
You're gonna get taken in

Oh this has gotta be the hood life
This has gotta be the hood life
This could really be a hood life, hood life

Say OW! Lost this finger in a gang fight
Set the Meth house all on fire tonight
This could really be a hood life
A hood, hood life

I feel like I'm very unlikely to live
I feel like the darkness is closing in
I'm taking a mental picture of you now
'Cuz hopeFULLy
(If I live), in a lineup, I can point you out !

Oh this has gotta be the hood life
This has gotta be the hood life
This could really be a hood life, hood life

Say OW! Got this feeling that it's time to fight
All the pimps in this city tonight
This could really be a hood life
A hood, hood life

Oh no!
Hood, hood life
Hood life

To all the thugs in New York, I say Whoa!
Bloods and Crips in L.A. and they ho's
Wherever you've been in the past year or so
Stay the #=!! out of Col-or-ado !

Sometimes there's snitches that rat you out
Sometimes there's Po-Po's on your tail now
You are god of NOTHING so please tell me-e-e-e
What's this fighting all about ?