Saturday, November 9, 2013

9 - Why Did You Start Blogging ?

From the Facebook post little known facts about Josh Case Sr:

9 - I only started Blogging to support my wife with her goal to blog every day for a year.

My wife prefers to spend time with me (which is still odd to me because I don't think I'm anything special to hang out with, but ...) it makes her happy.  Many years ago, she decided she wanted to blog daily, but quickly realized she would have to do this in the evenings after the kids go to bed.  That had become our only real time to hang out as a couple, so she was torn between these goals.  So I started blogging as a sort of "two birds with one stone" kind of solution.  Little did I know that I would enjoy it so much (most of the time anyway) and that it would continue for so long.

Song Of The Day:
One of my favorite 80's songs is "Stuck With You" by Huey Lewis and the News.  I can't say that the lyrics apply to my relationship with Karen, other than the happy to be stuck with you portions.  I don't think we've thought about giving up (although I think that applies to blogging for sure!) but it's too good of a song NOT to use it!


Friday, November 8, 2013

8 - This One Has To Be A Lie, Right ?!

From the Facebook post little known facts about Josh Case Sr:

8 - I am actually quite introverted and quiet or shy.

Some people will not believe this, especially my work friends.  I only act confident and outgoing because my role(s) require it.  I am not afraid of public speaking, but I much prefer to do my tasks by myself than work in groups.  I also prefer to listen rather than speak (some will call that an outright lie), but I am nervous in silent situations so I will often speak just to break the silence.

Once I am comfortable with someone or in a certain environment, I will seem very extroverted ... but it's a struggle every time I do it!  I am forcing myself to go against my nature and engage in conversations or lead groups of people.

That's why this is perfect to be shared in a "little known facts" list ... because other than my immediate family and a few really close friends, probably no one would EVER know this.

Song Of The Day:
There are many tie ins to the song for this post.  "Invisible" by Taylor Swift is a quiet, wallflower kind of song.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I often feel invisible, but I also know that I own the solution for that.  I need to force myself to not be invisible.  That said, I think true invisibility would be the best superpower (if I were able to pick one that would be it!)  I think that's why I try to ask so many questions of other people.  While on my mission, I found that asking people to talk about themselves makes me feel good.  I can pick and choose things to connect with them on and I feel less invisible then.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

7 - Is That A Knife ?

From the Facebook post little known facts about Josh Case Sr:

7 - While serving my two-year mission in Los Angeles, I was held at knife-point and had my life threatened ... by my missionary companion.

There is too much of a story here to summarize properly, but here are the pertinent details:
 - Missionaries have certain rules they are expected to follow and my companion broke one of them by having a small television set which he began watching periodically.
 - I followed the proper chain of command in reporting this to my District Leader. This eventually led to our Mission President calling and leaving a message on our answering machine informing my companion that he needed to get rid of the tv.
 - My companion stated that he was going to kill whoever told the President about his tv.  He suggested that it was our District Leader and I corrected him (fearing not for my own life but rather for the life of my fellow missionary).
 - My companion then calmly walked into his bedroom and came back carrying a 6-inch hunting knife (possessing such a weapon was another rule he was breaking).

The remainder of the experience is a bit of a blur to be honest.  I remember being punched and pushed.  I remember being picked up by my shirt collar and thrown against a wall.  I remember my District Leader and his missionary companion breaking down the door to our apartment and physically restraining my companion until the Mission President arrived.

One thing I want to clarify ... this missionary remained serving in the mission field, at my request.  A few days after the event, our Mission President asked me what I thougt should happen to the other Elder.  I asked that, if he was remorseful and repentant, he be given the choice to remain serving as a missionary for the remainder of his time.  He stayed, repented, and served many other people.  I think this is a very important lesson to remember and it is the part of the story I prefer to focus on.  People make mistakes.  But repentance and forgiveness is real.

Song Of The Day:
I know it is a love song but "The Heart Of The Matter" by Don Henley has a repeated refrain of forgiveness and that is why I picked it for this post.  I never spent any more time with this Elder again.  He never met with me or sought me out to apologize.  That doesn't really matter to me.  If he needed to do that to forgive himself then I would have (or still would) welcomed that.  But I didn't need that.  His outburst was uncalled for, but probably a sign of deeper issues he was working through.  There is no value in my carrying a grudge or holding this against him, then, or ever again.  In the song there is another phrase that says "you keep carrying that anger, it'll eat you up inside."  How true that is!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

6 - How Is This Even Possible ?

From the Facebook post little known facts about Josh Case Sr:

6 - Despite my love of basketball, I have never attended an NBA game.

This is a sheer tragedy, especially when you consider that I have attended 3 (three) NHL games featuring the Colorado Avalanche ... and I actually don't really like hockey at all.  I've also never been to an NFL game and I have become quite the Broncos fan in the last 15 years.

There is no reason other than time and money for which I have never attended an NBA game.  I shelled out over $100 for tickets to attend the NCAA Tournament in Denver a few years ago (when Jimmer Fredette was leading BYU to the Sweet Sixteen).  So money has a small part to play, but it isn't enough of a reason NOT to go.  I also have invested quite a bit of time attending and/or participating in sporting events, primarily basketball.  So that is not enough of an issue either.  It's really the combination of time and money that gets me I think.  That easily applies for never making a Broncos game (yet).

Song Of The Day:
Blues music is just awesome!  Here is the original recording of "Ain't That A Shame" by Fats Domino.  It is a shame I haven't (yet) been to an NBA game.  But I know it will happen sometime so there's no sleep lost here at night because of it.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

5 - How Long Did You Date ?

From the Facebook post little known facts about Josh Case Sr:

5 - I proposed to my wife less than 2 months after we first met.

Here's the deets:
We met (at a church dance) on December 17th, 1997.
We were engaged to be married on February 15th, 1998.

Basically from that first night we met I was 99% convinced I was going to marry her.  Oddly enough, it still took a while before I kissed her (I'm a shy "first kiss" kind of guy).  Also of note, I would have actually proposed to her sooner but she was in Europe for the 3 weeks right beforehand.

I mention this because the world will tell you that there is a certain timeframe you should adhere to when considering marriage.  Even I had a goal, written in my missionary journal, to NOT get married or even date anyone seriously for the first year after my mission.  I did not achieve that goal (returned from my mission on November 5th, 1997; Karen and I were sealed for time and all eternity on May 2nd, 1998) ... BUT ... I would argue that 15+ years of a wonderful marriage later proves my "there is no set timetable" point.

I would caution though, that marriage is a LOT of work and so you'd better do your homework before you make such a monumental commitment.  You'd better make sure your future spouse is willing to work at the marriage with you.  To this day, I am convinced that Karen and I squeezed a year or more of typical dating and courtship activities into those 5 1/2 months from first meeting to eternal marriage in the Denver Temple.  And we still work at our marriage every singly day!

Song Of The Day:
Sometimes you just know and that was the case with my sweet wife Karen.  In a much lesser way, you can also just know the first time you hear a song that you LOVE IT.  That was the case with "Unconditionally" by Katy Perry.  I have probably already listened to it over 100 times and I just like it more each and every time.  Lyrically.  The melody and harmony.  The thumping drum beats.  If you haven't heard it already I really hope you like it!


Monday, November 4, 2013

4 - Who Sings That ?

From the Facebook post little known facts about Josh Case Sr:

4 - I am unashamed to like music by unpopular (see: openly scorned) artists.

Examples include: Justin Bieber, One Direction (see: boy bands in general), Yanni, Barry Manilow, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Madonna, etc.  I just have an appreciation for good music regardless of who sings it.  You can hate the person all you want, but a good song, or good recording deserves the credit for its goodness.

Think of an artist or group who you have heard disparaging comments about and there is probably at least one of their songs that I like.  Next time, try this experiment: pretend like the song is being sung by a person or group that you really like and let your ears decide if it's "awful" or not.  I'd be willing to bet you will surprise yourself ... and may even open your mind to some great music in the process.

Song Of The Day:
As explained in item #4 above, I am unashamed of good music, regardless of who the artist is that created or performed the tune. Case in point: "The Story Of My Life" by One Direction is a very good song (in my opinion), but many people will miss out on that because of the artists who sing it. Too bad for you. Judging that book by it's cover is causing you to miss out on some great music.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

3 - What Is One Of Your Biggest Regrets ?

From the Facebook post little known facts about Josh Case Sr:

3 - I am NOT an Eagle Scout.

One of my greatest regrets in life is that I gave up on Scouting once I turned 16 years old.  In hindsight, I had plenty of time (2 years) to finish the last 3 merit badges I had almost entirely completed and my Eagle Scout project.

But I didn't.

Work, church, sports, high school, and of course girls, were a higher priority for me at that time.  I promised myself that if I ever had sons, they would be required to earn their Eagle Scout before they could get their driver's license (my two best friends in high school had this requirement and they both earned their Eagle!)

Song Of The Day:
I am unsure of the artist for this recording, but I think about the movie "Follow Me Boys" with Fred MacMurray when I hear this song.  In the movie, he leads the boys (initially somewhat ineffectively) to accomplish things they might not if he hadn't cared enough to teach them.  While I may never have earned my Eagle Scout, I can assure you that I will help as many young men earn theirs as I possibly can!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

2 - Art Thou Greater Than He ?

From the Facebook post little known facts about Josh Case Sr:

2 - My favorite scripture is not in the Bible.

My favorite scripture can be found in the Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Section 122, verse 8.  It deserves at least a little bit of set-up.

Joseph Smith had been incarcerated on false charges in Liberty Jail in Missouri for many months.  In response to his multiple prayers, in which Jospeh poured out his soul and frustrations, the Lord provided a reminder of the degree of difficulty others face in their lives, while also comforting Joseph and teaching him that his suffering was necessary for him to gain experience.  This specific scripture comes near the end of the Lord's response to Joseph, but has always stuck in my mind as something we should all remember.

D&C 122:8  "The Son of Man hath descended below them all.  Art thou greater than he?"

I sometimes feel my life is hard and that my challenges are more than one man should have to bear.  But the feeling is always fleeting as I contemplate the experiences that Joseph Smith went through during his abbreviated lifetime on this earth.  My situations certainly pale in comparison to his challenges.  And then there is the whole 'nother level of experiences that our Savior Jesus Christ willingly suffered through.  It never takes me more than a few minutes to put things in perspective and realize that I am ridiculously blessed!

Song Of The Day:
In honor of the great man and Prophet that Joseph Smith was, I think it's time for some Mormon Tabernacle Choir and their rendition of "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" which was sung at a General Conference session of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Friday, November 1, 2013

1 - You Were In An A Capella Group ?

From the Facebook post little known facts about Josh Case Sr:

1 - I sang tenor in a four-person A Capella group in high school.

I have always loved singing, but I never claimed to be any more than adequate at it.  Still, there is something heavenly, bordering on orgasmic, about a four part harmony coming together.  I love being a part of that and as a result have put myself in various situations I never should have really been in.

Back in high school was the first of these experiences.  Three of my friends from Spectrum (our select high school choir) and I decided that we loved singing enough that we should form our own a capella group.  Why a capella?  The real question is: why not?!

Our name was "A Shade Of Soul" which was supposed to be a play on words because we were all caucasian. The name was as mediocre as our singing, but we had fun and actually made quite a bit of money one Valentine's Day.  We spread the word about our willingness to serenade loved ones and shower them with gifts (flowers, candy, etc.) for a nominal fee.  We made enough money to pay for our entry fee to the annual UNC Jazz Festival.  We also had enough left over to splurge on some sweatshirts with our ridiculous logo and equally ridiculous bright red lettered names running down the sleeve.  I am glad I don't have any pictures of them.

We "broke up" shortly after our disastrous performance at the aforementioned jazz festival.  But we had certainly enjoyed many wonderful moments of harmony and melody coming together as we invested hours of our free time to try and improve our sound.

Song Of The Day:
Around this same time I became quite fond of the A Capella group The Nylons.  Obviously they were/are MUCH better than our group was, but their song "Good Old A Capella" always reminds me of the fun that can be had when a group of people just enjoy making that good old harmony.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What Am I Going To Learn By Listening To You Talk ?

In the middle of routine conversations, I have often brought the talking to a halt by pointing out what someone just said.  This used to be childish in nature, such as when someone would say do do and I would make excrement jokes.  Okay, to be honest I still do do that (ha!  funny every time!) but that is not what I'm referring to in this post.

People often do not realize (while in the middle of a conversation) that some of their statements, if taken out of context, are hilarious or perhaps very inappropriate.

A recent example is the question title of this blog post.  My boss said that to her boss in a casual conversation outside my cubicle at work.  In the context of the conversation it made legitimate sense and was relevant.  But as a stand alone question ... it made me just start laughing out loud!

I wonder if anyone else out there does this on a regular basis.  Am I the only one who spends at least part of every conversation attuned to these odd phrases?  Is this a phase I should have grown out of ... or is it a superpower that I can use to provide levity to others?

Song Of The Day:
Today's song is "Hide And Seek" by Imogen Heap.  It has been covered by what has to be thousands of individuals and groups.  Some of the lyrics go like this ... Mmmm whatcha say, that you only meant well?  Well of course you did.  I think we generally only mean well in conversations but sometimes what we say is worth laughing about.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why Do I Torture Myself ?

Yes, this IS another post about Fantasy Football.

Yes, I am destroying the other teams in ONE of my two leagues.

Yes, I told myself that "it's just for fun" and "I won't take it too seriously."

BUT ...
Every.  Single.  Week.
Every.  Single.  Game.
Every.  Single.  Player.

I get sucked in and experience these huge emotion swings as it looks like I will lose badly, then it looks like I might eke out a win, then it looks like I might get a dominant win, then it looks like I will just barely lose, then it looks like ... no wait ... yeah, I lost.

I'm currently in 10th place in my 12-team league.  Those other two teams doing worse than me have basically NEVER updated their teams!  So I am only better than people who aren't playing at all!

And yet ... I cannot wait for next week and the week after that and the playoffs and then perhaps next year when everything will be better because everything will work out the way I expect it to and I'll have a new chance to win again!  Hope springs eternal!

Song Of The Day:
I've wanted to use the song "Better Days" by the Goo Goo Dolls for a while now but didn't have the write blog post idea for it.  I can think of none better than this one, because I'm always seeking the better days ahead related to fantasy football.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

How Have You Been ?

Today at work I received a phone call from a former employee.  For almost two years we worked together (she reported to me up until the day she resigned to pursue other opportunities) and over that time we had many very good conversations on a variety of subjects.  When she left, I was excited and happy for her but also sad about her departure, because the team and I would both be missing her presence and positive influence.

What a pleasure it was to talk to her again today!

During our conversation it became apparent that she had been going through some rough work experiences.  She stated that she had called me to just check in, but I could sense that she was feeling very deflated about some recent poor interactions she had experienced with various people in authority over her.  After getting her to talk about her concerns she conveyed that she just missed the kind of coaching I used to provide her about her performance.  She didn't realize how much she craved that kind of reinforcement (whether positive or constructive - either is better than not knowing how you're doing).

Our conversation evolved into a discussion around goals and priorities.  That gave me an opportunity to provide her with some coaching.  I emailed her a recent article I had read about setting goals and establishing priorities (she had lamented her tendency to jump quickly from one thing to the next without a more planful approach).  She thanked me for my time and I asked her to follow up with me after she reviews the article and outlines her priorities and goals.  I then thanked her for allowing me the opportunity to still provide some coaching to her.  She again thanked me for my help and told me she was greatful for our friendship.

You never know whose life you can touch (or who might touch your life) with just a simple conversation.  To everyone out there who feels inadequate or unappreciated I suggest the following: call an old friend or strike up a conversation with someone you haven't spoken to in a while.  There is true strength in camaraderie.

Song Of The Day:
Even though the song was overplayed (at my high school anyway) when it first came out, Michael W. Smith's song "Friends" is a great tune with inspiring words.  I sometimes think about the concept of spending eternity catching up with souls I haven't chatted with for a long time.  That sure sounds like a nice heaven to me.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Did I Bring The Snow ?

Yesterday afternevening I completed two tasks that each only happen once per year:
 - mow the grass for the final time before winter
 - hang up the golf clubs for the season

The time had come for both things to be done.  I cannot see any situation until next Spring when I will be able to play a round of golf.  I also knew that the temperature was likely not going to be much warmer again for some time.

My question is ... which of these actions brought about the 1-2 inches of snow and frost that blanketed my plot of land here in beautiful Colorado Springs this morning?  Or was it a combination of both things?

Song Of The Day:
Too early for Christmas music?  I think not!  Besides, "Let It Snow"  is more of a winter song than just Christmas themed.  Enjoy this original version by the great Frank Sinatra.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Why Are YOU Using The Tall One ?

Ladies, this is not a situation you've ever had to deal with so you are excused from having to read on if you would like to spend your time somewhere else.

Gentlemen, if this is YOU, please correct your behavior.  It's just the right thing to do.  For you.  For me.  For society.  For the janitorial staff.

In many restrooms that cater to "Men" there are two different heights of urinals available for use.  One might think this is to support more boys and men but it really has nothing to do with our age.  It has to do with your height.  If you're of average or shorter than average height, then you should generally choose to use the shorter urinals, and the taller ones should be used by the taller males.

Without being too crude about it, no matter how good your "aim" is, it is always easier to hit your target when it is at the right height to begin with.  A taller man begins his aiming in the middle of the taller urinal.  But if he uses a shorter urinal, his aim begins slightly above the top of the urinal.  This means he has to be very aware to adjust the natural flow of events to avoid unwanted liquids to end up on the flushing mechanism.  In similar but reverse fashion, a shorter individual using a taller urinal has to direct the flow onward and upward to avoid missing the drain entirely, thus rendering the floor and the shoes of anyone in the vicinity as the final resting place for bodily fluid waste.

To my brethren out there ... can I get an AMEN?!  Can we not band together and begin to expect everyone to use an appropriate height urinal?!  Tall or short, it is equally frustrating to have to use a urinal that is not at our height!

Song Of The Day:
Before he became a regularly Oscar-nominated Disney song writer, Randy Newman put together several albums with quite a variety of messages.  One of my personal favorites is "Short People" and when some short jerk takes the tall stall instead of the appropriately sized one, I secretly sing this song in my mind while finishing my business.  Short people got no reason to live ...


Monday, October 7, 2013

Who Says Kids Are Hard To Feed ?

Not much I can or should say about this picture post.

It's like feeding the birds at the park ... :)

Song Of The Day:
Let's be honest: true parenting is very challenging and time consuming.  But sometimes it can feel very "Easy" which is a classicly great tune by Lionel Ritchie.  I'm grateful for the simple times.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Super Pancakes ?

How do you improve on a Sunday morning with pancakes?  With SUPER-sized pancakes that include chocolate chips or a crispy cinnamon-sugar creme-brulee style crust ... and homemade buttermilk syrup of course!  :)

With a great recipe (which was a 4X the normal batch size) and the best pancake pourer (I mean look at the picture!  That guy's a super-pancake pourer!) it was an amazing meal with some amazing friends and family (and amazing General Conference talks in the background to boot!) ... and we almost ran out of pancakes!

The right food can make for a great experience, but coupled with great company it is just a little slice of what I hope heaven will be like.

Song Of The Day:
An oldie and a goodie, the song "Sunshine Superman" by Donovan came to my mind today as I wore my Superman t-shirt and made some massive pancakes in the sunshine of New Mexico.  What great fun we had this weekend ... sad to be heading home.  :(


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Is This It ?

Yeah, it's bright and early on a Saturday morning.
Here we are in Albuquerque, NM with our friends the Amsdens awaiting the Dawn Patrol balloons to kick off their annual Balloon Fiesta.

And after a very early (and ultimately unsuccessful) test drive to the balloon fields, Kevin and I mobilized some of the troops to the open field a short ways from their home to watch for some balloons.

This was mostly what we saw ...

In fairness, this was THE first morning of the entire 8-day Fiesta, so it is not too surprising that it is not an overwhelming amount of aerial spectacularness.  But it certainly led to quite a few conversations about whether or not we want to do anything more related to the Fiesta on our weekend of New Mexico fun.

Song Of The Day:
The song "This Is It" by Kenny Loggins came to mind this morning.  Not just because it is a nice rearrangement of the blog post title question, but also because one of the lines in the song repeats Make no mistake where you are.  We are here.  It is a grandiose balloon fiesta.  It's just the first day.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Who's Sleeping Where ?

Often overlooked by guests when planning a vacation sleepover at a friend's house is today's title post question.  I think on some level the guests just make an assumption that the hosts will consider their bed situation and designate specific areas, locations, beds, cots, couches, etc. for their guests to sleep on.

How fortunate we Traveling Case Circus members are that our good friends the Amsdens are excellent sleepover hosts!  They rearranged almost everything to make us almost more comfortable than we are in our own home.  Shout out to Breanna for giving up her supposedly super comfy bed and her room for Karen and I (and Spencer since he's still so little).

That said, it sometimes takes convincing to help some visitors that the sleeping arrangements are going to be just fine.
To the right is a picture of the eventual sleeping set-up for our three younger girls (this was the original planned set-up but it took quite a bit of discussion to finalize with these three girls).  Catalina didn't think she could fall asleep with us playing games in the next room.  Myra wasn't tired and wouldn't lay down.  And Savannah didn't want to be all alone in the bed.

Long story short, everyone (and there are 9 of us) has a great spot to sleep for the night (and tomorrow night too) and we're looking forward to some great fun together over General Conference and Balloon Fiesta weekend!

Song Of The Day:
One of the girls (I forget who exactly) was also concerned that they might wander away in the middle of the night.  That phrase reminded me of the song "River Of Dreams" by Billy Joel, which has lyrics referencing going walking in the middle of the night.  I promised the girls we would find them if they did wander off ... not sure if that helped them much.  :)


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Who's The New Guy ?

Today's Song Of The Day is "The Sound Of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel.  And I am starting today's blog post with that song because the sound of silence was all I heard after I spoke up on a conference call at work today.  And I am convinced that, at least for some, my blog post title question is what was going through the minds of my peers on the call.

There is not much more I can explain about it, but for truly inquiring minds, here is as best of a synopsis as I can provide.

In my new role at work, I am now involved in a company-wide bi-weekly conference call, which includes about 35-40 leaders from our Training, Academy (New Hire), and Coaching leadership team from across the country.  Unlike many groups of this size, the TAC group actually gets things done.  This, of course, has all happened before I joined the group.

After a hearty discussion around several topics on the agenda, we were nearing the end of the meeting and did a "round table" (this is when anyone from the general group can bring up any questions, ideas, concerns, etc.)  I had previously spoken with my Manager about bringing up a general question about a recent change in our call flow.  She agreed it was a good idea so I brought it up when the round table got to our Colorado participants.

And there was dead silence after I spoke.

Like seriously dead silence.

Like the kind of silence they portray in the movies when someone says something or does something that is so offensive or unacceptable that everyone ... just ... stops.

After the call was over, my Manager came to my desk and reassured me by expressing how confused she was at the silence that occurred.  No matter.  It will still forever haunt me whenever I am on this conference call going forward.  I'll always picture the other participants hearing my voice and preparing to be as quiet as humanly possible.

Sigh ... oh well.  :)


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Is Thinking Considered Working ?

Are you honest in your business dealings?

That is one of the questions a person is asked in order to receive a recommend for entering any LDS Temple.  I believe it is aimed at encouraging the answerer to consider their interactions with others as related to anything of a financial nature.

When I think about the work I do day in and day out, I often reflect on this question.  I feel it is a responsibility of an employee to give a fair day's work for a fair day's pay.  In fairness it is sometimes more appropriate to consider a fair week's pay or fair month's pay when you are in an exempt role, because the day-to-day may show too much variance.

It is in this spirit that I pose today's title question.

Much of what I invariably do day in and day out at work could be categorized as thinking.  It wears other names like planning, reviewing reports, listening to and analyzing calls, etc. but they almost all roll up into the thinking category.  As I think about that, I find myself wondering whether or not my time spent thinking is actually work.  Most people who work end up completing some task or accomplishing some measurable progress on something.  But with thinking, there is often not a measurable progression until much later.  And if thinking isn't working, then am I truly bringing the value to the role for which my employer is paying me?

Hmmmmm ...

Song Of The Day:
I am thinking a throwback to C and C Music Factory is in order.
The song "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm" was once quite popular and ties in nicely with this topic.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

But Do I Really Care ?

The thing about mid-life crises is that the experience is transitional.  It is not that you are in an ambiguous state, but rather you recognize the beginning of a transformation from what life has been thus far for yourself and what it will be going forward.  This often brings about very mixed and confusing emotions and thoughts.  You find yourself asking yourself questions you never considered before.  And sometimes your answers are frighteningly candid.  This can lead to feelings of depression, not necessarily because you are sad, but often because you are unsure how to feel about this revelation or new perspective.

I am unashamed to admit that I am in full fledged mid-life crisis mode right now.

In fact, being honest with myself and anyone who cares to read these posts, I have been in this transitional phase for roughly 2 years now.  What scares me the most is that I do not have any idea when the "end" will be.  I would have guessed that the crisis would only last a few months or years, but I am beginning to feel and think that it all has to do with how you transition to the future YOU.

Let me share an example for anyone who is not understanding what I am trying to convey here about the transitional nature of a mid-life crisis.
Recently at work I was impacted by a large change.  Two-thirds of my team (14 of 22 direct reports) were reassigned to my Manager so that I could begin taking on the responsibility of our new hires in the Sales group.  This was a major change to be sure, but I have cycled through dozens of direct reports in my 7 years as a Supervisor, including some that involved nearly as many people.
So why does this change feel so different?
The best answer I have come up with is that my perspective is very different.  I have long considered myself to be a genuinely caring individual.  When I express compassion or empathy or ask questions to get to know someone better, it is not just because I am supposed to ... it is because I truly am interested and do care about them.
But as this change happened, I began reflecting on many of my peers (I consider direct reports to be my peers even if I am technically "the boss") at work who have come and gone over the years.  There are maybe only a handful that I chat with on even an acquaintance basis.  Despite my perceived genuine concern for them, when the reporting relationship ended, so did almost all of my initiated interest in them.  Almost never do I reach out to any of them just to see how things are going for them.  So doesn't that very strongly support the argument that I don't actually care about them?

The worst part, for me, is that I began thinking through this as related to my friendships.  I have always considered myself to be a true friend.  Someone you can count on to be there for you whenever you might need me.  Someone who wants to hear about your struggles or concerns or answer your questions or just hang out and do nothing (if that's what you need).  But ... as I think about my friendships over the years, there are almost none where I really make an effort to be a friend unless it happens to be convenient (they work near me, live near me, or I happen to see them at church or basketball or scouts, etc.)

This, and this alone, is the kind of self-awareness which has the capacity to excite my mind with new possibilities (how much easier would life be if I didn't actually have to care?) while also filling my mind with great depression and disappointment about the person I might actually be (what if I've never really cared and my ability to "let things go" is actually a detriment rather than a strength?)

I don't have the answers.  I have some of the questions but I don't necessarily want to ask them.  I am NOT on the verge of a breakdown, but I am on the verge of likely making major changes in the person I am.  I want to keep the genuine good parts of myself and discard the baggage or pretentious parts of my personality.  But sifting through 35+ years of experiences takes time.  And being honest with myself about who I am willing to commit to being is exhausting.

To be continued ... :)

Song Of The Day:
One thing (among many) that does remain constant is my absolute love of music.  The joy I feel when listening to creative expression through sound is one of many experiences I will never regret and will always continue to seek out.  Today's song is an anthem of sorts related to that.  I know some people have strong opinions about John Mayer, but one of his songs from his first CD is titled "Not Myself" and it often comes to mind when I am feeling a little out of sorts.  Some of the lyrics ask the question "would you want me when I'm not myself?  wait it out while I am someone else?"  I am hopeful that the people I love in my life will stick with me as I continue my mid-life crisis transition.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Have You Seen This Show ?

Very rarely will I find myself in the App Store on my iPad just searching for new apps.  In fact, this has probably only happened 3 or 4 times in my iLifetime.  One of those times I apparently found an app called Crackle, which is really just another digital media app that shows movies, tv shows, and some lengthier videos ... and ONE really cool show that you've probably never seen before.

If you like Jerry Seinfeld, then you should download the app (it's free) IF ONLY for the access it provides you to his new show titled "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee."  Each webisode lasts between 8 and 22 minutes with the same basic flow: Jerry introduces you to a unique "car"; he calls a comedian buddy to set up a coffee date; picks up the comedian; drives them in the car to get coffee (and always food, etc.); they talk, laugh, joke; and Jerry drives them home again.  Each webisode features a different comedian (from Brian Regan to David Letterman and Sarah Silverman to Chris Rock) and they all have different high and low points of humor.

I think what I like most is that the concept is so fresh and new.  It is a slice of reality television, but twisted in that you're watching celebrities in everyday conversation with one another.  The humor is so raw and conversational that I am just hooked ... waiting for new webisodes ... waiting ...

Song Of The Day:
There can be no better song for today than the unsung smash hit "A Proper Cup Of Coffee" by the (kid's group?) Trout Fishing In America.  I have been trying to find a way to feature them in this blog for over a year now, and finally I have the right combination of things: blog post topic, great song, and youtube video link of the aforementioned song that I don't have to create myself!  It's a sing-along song so join in!  :)


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Do You Think We'll Make It ?

Seeing as this probably was the final round of golf for me this year, I feel it acceptable to have three blog posts devoted to the 18-hole round.  Overkill?  Maybe.  But in fairness, the experiences Aaron and I had during this wacky day (I totally skipped over the whole "replace a water heater and deal with flooding in the basement" stuff) easily justify each of these posts.

I've already mentioned (in my last post) that the golf carts were to stay on the cart path - no exceptions!  So the video linked below was bound to happen eventually.

Here are a few pictures of some of the "bridges" on the cart path:

And here is the video of Aaron driving us safely across:

In hindsight, perhaps it wasn't a good idea to let him drive the back 9!  :)

Song Of The Day:
Scotland is considered the birthplace of golfing.  And that area of the world is known for being more green (see: covered in water all the time) than our fair city.  So as we enjoyed this soggy landscape I found myself humming "The Water Is Wide" every time we neared one of these "bridges."  I found this version (by the Celtic Women of course!) to share in today's post.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How Wet Was It ?

Due to the heavy rains we have been experiencing these past few weeks here in the Colorado Springs metropolitan area, our normally dry landscape has been subjected to all kinds of circumstances usually reserved for more humid parts of the country.

One example was yesterday's golfing experience at Antler Creek golf course in Falcon, CO.  For our 18-hole round, Aaron and I were driving a cart, which had to remain on the cart path (to avoid getting stuck or leaving tread marks across the soggy course) for the entire round - no exceptions!  Through the first 9 holes, I felt the squishing under my shoes as we traversed fairways and greens, but in my mind I still wondered why the golf carts couldn't cross the landscape.  That is, until our experience on the 11th hole.

The tee box affords a breathtaking view of the front range, including majestic Pikes Peak.  Aaron had "honors" so he prepared for and took his first swing of the hole.  The ball traveled several hundred feet ... almost straight UP in the air!  But at least it was headed to the fairway so it would be easy to find, right?!  When it landed a few seconds later we just heard a thump.  After my tee shot, we drove down to find Aaron's ball ... and nearly drove past it.  Why?  See for yourself in the pictures below.

Being the gentleman I am (and claiming my own made-up "poor course conditions" rule), I did not make Aaron take the standard one-stroke penalty for retrieving his ball.  However, he did have a hard time hitting his second shot since we were both laughing so hard!

Song Of The Day:
Inspired by the picture and experience described above, please enjoy Sugarland's hit song "Stuck Like Glue"
Thankfully Aaron rescued his ball before the glue set up!  :)


Monday, September 23, 2013

Was This The Last Round ?

Sometimes an 8:20am tee time can seem like a late start.  And other times (see: this morning) it can seem like whoever set that time was an idiot.  When the weather has been nice, with temperatures staying very comfortable throughout the night, you can go golfing as soon as the sun rises and it will be just wonderful.  The weather has NOT been balmy lately, and the further east you travel, the more wind you will be forced to enjoy.

That said, I am so glad Aaron convinced me it was still going to be a great day golfing ... because it really was!  But the chill in the air, the wind (how is it always) in our faces, and the soggy course (just wait for my next two posts!) all but convinced me that this will be my last round of golf for the season.  The golf clubs have not been hung up just yet, but it certainly can't be long now.

Song Of The Day:
I know that I have featured Boyz II Men several times in this portion of my posts ... but they are really good and their songs just fit so well!  The "End Of The Road" is likely here for this season of golfing, so consider this an ode to my golf clubs ... until next year my friends!  :)


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Where Is Everybody ?

Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to attend an Air Force Academy football game.  The opponent was Wyoming (whose uniforms were actually much better than the last time I saw them play decades ago).

I say "opportunity" because I had won 2 tickets (including some food vouchers) from a special giveaway at my work.  I also say "opportunity" in the slightly sarcastic sense that ... to the right is a picture of the whole group that came to attend the game.  20 tickets were given away.  Throughout the game, I saw only two other people in our section from work.

Oh well ... it was an exciting game for a little while (the home team began to lose very badly midway through the second quarter) but the late start (8:30pm MDT) and cold weather caused my buddy Tony and I to call it quits before it was all said and done.

Song Of The Day:
I am sure many people have actually heard this Bonus Track single title "All By Myself" which was at the very end of the Dookie album by Green Day.  I remember letting the CD play on repeat shuffle in my room in Greeley, CO.  The music stopped eventually (or so I thought) but I was so busy doing whatever I was doing (probably arranging my hats on the wall) that I didn't notice.  That is, until I started to hear this song begin to play.  The irony of timing was not lost on me then.  I laughed and laughed.  Good one boys, good one!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Male Version Of Hooters ?

I find it fun to take a simple comment or singular item and build a huge experience and/or conversation out of it.  I am sure it drives my wife crazy sometimes, but it also provides quite a bit of entertainment value ... and I would argue that it bolsters creative thinking to boot!

Aaron's wife Britney packed this shirt
for him to wear on their last stay-over
at our house.  He was thrilled!  :)
The image to the right (thanks Aaron S for modeling the "starting point" so well) was the genesis for a creative conversation between 4 arguably intelligent adults:

Things we discussed:
 - why isn't there a male version of Hooters?
 - could the place be called "Stud Muffins"?
 - would the waiters wear tight t-shirts and jeans?
 - could the menu be centered around more breakfast items (muffins, etc.)?
 - would people call the wait staff "Muffin Men" to compete with Hooters Gals?
 - could a partnership with Hooters be possible?
 - what would be the signature dish (like wings at Hooters)?

All told, the conversation lasted at least 30 minutes, which may not seem like much but I suggest you try and talk for that long about a random subject and see how long it is before you run out of reasonably intelligent things to say.

Song Of The Day:
No matter what happens, it is evident that the theme song at this restaurant would have to be "Whatta Man" by Salt N Pepa.  Ladies, just envision yourself at Stud Muffins with all your girlfriends enjoying a great breakfast to this tune.  Yeah ... you're thinking about it now.


Friday, September 20, 2013

How Spoiled Are We ?

Today's post is deliberately short to help me avoid getting to wordy on my soapbox vent about how we have become spoiled brats in this great nation of ours.
I may regret saying too much about this years from now, so I will make a few basic points.

First, we have it SO good!  Food, clothing, and shelter are our "basic" needs.  Odds are you do not actually know anyone who is currently without these things.  You may know of people who are, but if you are being truly honest, everyone you know has at least a satisfactory level of these things.

Second, I'll ask you to think about the last stressful decision you had to make.  What did it center around?  Were lives at stake?  Was someone's physical being in danger?  Or, was it more likely similar to the cartoon example below.  We tell ourselves we have stress but we are so spoiled we don't really know what that kind of stress is like.

Lastly, I have one final question.  How much of your day is spent working to earn your living?  Don't be so quick to claim 8 or 10 hours.  Stop and recalculate.  How many required breaks did you take during that workday?  How many other breaks did you justify taking?  When you break down the amount of time, I bet you will realize your per work hour wage is quite impressive, or at the very least is what MOST of the world would consider wealthy.

So let's remember how blessed we are before we hang our heads in sorrow and wallow in self pity.  In fact, if you have the time and the means to read this blog post, you are doing very well indeed.
Now find someone to thank for being so blessed!

Song Of The Day:
When I received my first MP3 player several years ago, it came with the typical set of pre-loaded songs.  Oddly enough, several of those songs became favorites of mine after just a minute or two of hearing them.  One of those was Guy Fosyth's tune "Long Long Time" which is perfect for this post.  In the song, Guy laments our spoiled ways as Americans.  For that reason alone I enjoyed the song, but the melody and refrain are quite good by themselves.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

What Is A Yiddeyl Tawr ?

Sometimes you need to stop whatever you are doing and just enjoy life.  You need to pull your head away from the tv or computer or video games or homework or chores or whatever else has your attention and just watch and listen.

I did that the other day, and was fortunate enough to take some video of what I enjoyed.  Below is a link to one video of my youngest daughter, Myra, doing her best to practice her piano (she has never had any lessons - obviously) and singing.  If you pay close enough attention, you will recognize the popular tune.  I know she is singing about a 'pider' and not 'dee yiddeyl tawr' but when you hear the one you can easily guess the other!

Myra singing Itsy Bitsy "Pider"  ... click the highlighted link ...

Song Of The Day:
Stevie Wonder's classic tune "Isn't She Lovely" is fitting for so many scenarios.  I haven't used it yet so here it is today.  Of course, I think Myra is amazingly lovely!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why Do I Like This Picture So Much ?

I am not a photographer.

This was drilled into my head through a Intro to Photography class I took in high school.
Oh sure any idiot with a camera can take pictures.  Now any idiot with a phone can too.  I am just one of those idiots, and yet ... every so often, I will snap a photo that really sticks with me.  The picture featured in today's post is an example of that.

I cannot really say why I like this one so much.  I have seen, and taken, many photos of sunlight behind clouds.  There are millions that are probably more beautiful than this one for a variety of reasons.  But I love this picture.
It has been the wallpaper on my phone now since the day I took it and every time I have considered changing it I just can't bring myself to do it.

Song Of The Day:
Although the clouds in this picture brought no rain, they sure look "Stormy" which is our song for the day.  This was one of a few hits for the group named Classics IV.  Check them out on wikipedia and you'll realize you actually have heard their music before.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why Are Most Birthdays NOT Special ?

Early on in my life it was apparent that certain birthdays are VERY special.

When I turned 8 I knew I was able to be baptized.

When I turned 10 it was cool because ... "double digits" !!!

Then 12 was cool because I was ordained to the Priesthood and began serving in many roles at church.  This continued at 14 and 16 and 18 in different roles.

13 is awesome for everyone because you're now a teenager!

16 is glorious for dual reasons: driving and dating!

At 18 you're considered an "adult" in most circumstances.

When I turned 19, I knew I would be able to serve a two-year mission (I was called to serve in Los Angeles and they were two of the most important years in my life!)

Most people love 21 because they're legally able to drink (but it's also a "I'm really an adult now" kind of age).

25 may not seem significant, but at that age you can rent a car ... very important if you like to travel.

And then ... life becomes a series of birthdays that are either insignificant or you really don't want to celebrate.

30 ... you're not a "kid" anymore.

40 ... you're "over the hill"

50 ... isn't it about time for more uncomfortable alone time with your doctor?

55 ... AARP, Senior Citizen Discount, etc. ... which all just means "you're too old to really enjoy anything anymore so we don't mind giving you perks because we know you won't use them."

65 (or 66 1/2 or 67 or 68 or ...) ... time for retirement?

75 ... you're still here?  can you still hear?

Sammy the Squirrel came by today to wish me well on
my birthday (on behalf of the whole animal kingdom).
And then around 90 people begin the countdown to 100 and bets are secretly placed on whether or not you'll make it to the century mark.  I haven't known many who have lived to be that old, but the few I can remember seemed to not care much either way about it.

So if you do the math, a person who lives to be 100 will have roughly 16 of those birthdays that mean something while the other 84 are just milestones where people are obligated to wish you well and you are, in turn, obligated to thank them for the kind words.

I say ... meh ... let's drop the pretending around every birthday needing to feel special.  Let's recognize and accept the fact that we (and others) really only care a very small percentage of the time.  But in exchange, when these birthdays DO come around, let's do them up right!

Song Of The Day:
The song "100 Years" by Five For Fighting comes to mind ... Although the song doesn't highlight the birthdays I listed as being special, the message of the song is just perfect.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Why Are You Here ?

It is fun to show up at work on a day people are not expecting to see you, especially when it has been many months since you have worked on that day of the week ...

The reactions you get from people are always fun:
 - Is it Tuesday yet?
 - Why are you here?
 - Is my calendar off?
 - Uh oh.  Who's in trouble?
 - Wait ... do you have a meeting or something?
 - No seriously ... WHY are you here?!

For the past so-many-years-I-lost-track-of-them I have worked a Tuesday through Saturday schedule at Progressive.  I love the days and hours (I work four 9-hour days with one 4-hour day in the middle of them) and especially the two-day weekend (Sunday-Monday).  The added bonus is that everyone else works Mondays so I am free to run errands without nearly as much traffic as I would have on a Saturday.  I have gotten very used to working this schedule, and most people who work near me have gotten used to me NOT being at work on Mondays.  The above reactions were comments I actually heard at some point today.  Very fun indeed!

Song Of The Day:
Once again we were blessed with more rain today, albeit less than we've had in the past few weeks.  I'm still loving the rain and Madonna seems to enjoy it as well in her "Rain" song.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Best Laid Plans?

Some days, nothing goes right despite your best planning efforts.  As with anything else in life, your reaction to the situation you find yourself in is more important than the circumstances.  Those who can roll with the punches are able to enjoy life more, even if some of them are quite heavy blows.

All this rain we have been having lately led to the basement flooding tonight at my brother's townhome.  Truly this is nothing compared to the loss of homes and lives that has happened as a result of these storms, but it is a big deal for him as this is the first home he has ever owned.  It also interrupted our plans for a family game night (to celebrate my birthday) this evening, which is even less important in the grand scheme of things.

Now reflecting back on my statement above about a person's reaction to these kinds of situations, I found it very interesting how certain people reacted and what it told me about their personalities.  Some reacted with anger; anger at anyone and anything.  Some dropped everything else to immediately help.  Some seemed to want to pretend nothing was going on and wanted others to do the same.  And others just smiled and went to work.

I believe we all lose our sense of priority sometimes, and we allow little things to seem much bigger and more important than they actually are.  But then life is made up of hundreds of those little things so it is important also to remember to look for patterns so you can reasonably plan for the future.

Song Of The Day:
I was inspired by the efforts of some of my family members who were quick to offer help when this situation arose.  In their honor, reflect on the words in the song "Umbrella" by Rihanna.  It is nice to know that there are always those who will share their umbrella with us when life is raining.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

When Did We Get An Arcade ?

Taking a short break from the monotony of auditing phone calls, a peer and I ventured into one of our "break rooms" here at work.  As it turns out, there is more than just the foosball and air hockey tables ... there is an arcade game machine with 80 different classic arcade games programmed on it.


I especially enjoyed playing Burger Time, which I was still not very good at but thoroughly enjoyed playing!

Song Of The Day:
The rain continues, which is just great for my water bill and our watershed here in Colorado Springs.  Not so great for flooding thought.  So please enjoy "Can You Stand The Rain?" by Boyz II Men.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Why Do Adults Just Sit Around And Talk All The Time ?

Jordan and Erin Case
(ain't they a cute couple?!)
I noticed this evening, when my brother Jordan and his wife Erin came over to "play games", that we never got around to playing a game.   Instead, we just sat and chatted on a variety of subjects.   I wasn't mad that we didn't play a game and I don't think anyone else was bothered either, but it made me wonder the title question of this blog post.

From the perspective of a child, getting together to "play" or "hang out" would not just involve sitting around and talking.  I can just see my children (who were in bed long before us "adults" finally called it a night) asking themselves what we adults were doing for hours on end.  I remember what it was like to be a kid and especially at family reunions I remember wondering how these "old people" could just sit around and talk for hours.

Only now do I appreciate the enjoyment that can come from good conversation with great company.  Sharing memories, experiences, thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects can be stimulating and very entertaining.  I believe this comes from the connection that is established when you find that your opinions or experiences are similar to others of the human race.  Despite different circumstances, we often share common core beliefs and it is rewarding for the soul when we support one another in those values.

So you kids who think talking for hours is just for old people, I've got news for you: one day, maybe when you're old, you will appreciate time spent with family and friends doing nothing more than talking and listening to one another.
We should all be so lucky!

Song Of The Day:
Once again, the rains came this evening, saturating my lawn and continuing to wreak havoc on already flooded areas.  When I saw a beautiful rainbow, it made me think of the song "Rainbow Connection" and this version is performed by Weezer feat. Hayley Williams.  I've always loved this song and seeing a rainbow reminds me of another reason I love rainstorms.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

So, What Now ?

Being a "Clear The To Do List" person is a blessing and a curse.

The blessing is that you get lots of things done.  People around you begin to recognize all that hard work and usually praise your efficiency.  There is a sense of satisfaction in knowing your productivity is so high.  Any fears that you might be considered a lazy person are ridiculous.  Give the task to yourself and everyone knows it will get done, and done right!

The curse is that it becomes nearly impossible to "just relax."  Because you perform best when there is a list of things to get done, when the tables are turned and there is theoretically nothing to do (because the current list is finished) then you are lost.  This also limits your ability to stop and smell the roses or in other words, enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Stole this from Google Maps ... it's a good "Before" picture of the house
And here's an "After" picture from close to the same angle
(what you can't see are the concrete walkways and tree ring)
Having finally *finished the landscaping for our front yard (which has been a full six-month project comprised of more steps than I have time to recount), I find myself unable to just sit and enjoy the new yard.  I'm asking myself "What's next?" and the logical answer is to create a new "To Do List."
*The sprinkler manifold and drainage area next to it still need to be covered with landscape fabric and rocked.  This includes digging some sort of french drain for the downspout.

So instead of just taking a break to enjoy our new front yard, here's a short list of projects or things I need to work on now:
 - Fix the back of the couch in the movie room
 - Fix the garage door keypad
 - Rearrange items in the garage (hang bikes and other summer items)
 - Clean out and organize the game room area in the basement
 - Switch out Josh Jr's bed (he has the extra queen sized "guest" bed and wants a regular twin bed so he doesn't have to give up his room when friends come to visit)
 - Move Brooklyn out of the Bunkhouse to her own room upstairs (she will be the recipient of the aforementioned queen-sized bed)
 - Fix the wall and carpet from Ben's room
 - Tile the floor outside the basement shower
 - Re-paint the lower wall in the office
 - Dig out the backyard sprinkler heads
 - Begin building the retaining wall in the backyard
 - Strip the old paint and re-paint the posts on the gazebo

There are probably 100 or more other projects on my long-term To Do List, but these are ones I hope to finish before the cold of winter sets in.  Looking at the list, I am beginning to rethink the value of being a 'Clear the To Do List' person.  :)

Song Of The Day:
Once again we were blessed with rain today so I have selected another rain-themed song.  It's time to get your country music on with "Rain Is A Good Thing" by Luke Bryan.  In relation to this post, rain is a good thing to force me to relax, since it limits my ability to do many of the items on my next To Do list.