Thursday, January 31, 2013

Is There A Downside To Winning So Much On The Radio ?

The short answer to the title question is ... yes ...
However, it comes with a big BUT attached to it.
(insert your own joke about J-Lo or Sir Mix-A-Lot here).

The downside to all my winnings (mostly from "Are You Smarter Than A Woody?") from 92.9 Peak FM came in the mail today in the form of a 1099-Misc tax form.  You read that right.  I won so much from the same radio station in 2012 that they had to send me a "Miscellaneous Income" form.
The grand total reported?  $1130!

So that will certainly affect our tax refund this year ...

Now here's the big BUT ... (go ahead and crack* another joke here if you must)
 - The tax impact to our household will be so minimal it cannot possibly overshadow the joy that came with all those prizes, gift certificates, tickets to shows, etc.  Especially those items I was able to give away to others, which were easily just as much fun to enjoy knowing that some of my friends got to experience some "free" entertainment!
*Pun intended

Side Note:  I will attempt to spread the winning across more radio stations this year.  Just this afternoon I won from K-Lite 106.3 (the prizes were $100 American Express gift card and the first season of Smash on DVD ... and a 1 in 6 chance at a trip to Las Vegas!)  Life is sooooo good!  :)

Song Of The Day:
This is the song of the day for no other reason than I heard it for the first time on the radio today and it was just too good to not share today.  I barely know the catalog of music from Led Zeppelin, which is a real shame but one I plan to correct very quickly.  This song is "Fool In The Rain" and if it is any indication of the style of their other music, I think I'm in for a real treat as I get to know their classic sound better.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Can One Person Make Much Difference?

I hope that one of my qualities is the ability to connect with just about anyone.  I like to believe that my experiences are not just mine but that other people feel, think, and sometimes suffer through the same things.  I guess that's why I like blogging.  It is a chance to share some of my experiences, most often with the sole hope that readers (now or long in the future) will find things that resonate with them in their own life.

On occassion, I think about the movie "It's A Wonderful Life" and the experience that Jimmy Stewart's character has wherein he sees what the world would be like if he hadn't ever been in it.  I don't get discouraged often, but sometimes I do wonder if my presence is really making much of a difference to anyone or anything.  Recently, I have had multiple experiences that reminded me of the benefit I have been in a variety of people's lives.  I don't share these to brag or boast (they certainly aren't worthy of any deep admiration), but to point out that we all probably have this kind of influence for good in the world ... and to remind us that every so often it's good to pause, look around, and be grateful for your individual influence on the world around you.

Within the past few days I have been:
 - thanked by one of my team members at work for "putting him at ease" on something that was really stressing him.
 - informed that one of my prior blog posts provided my brother-in-law that little extra oomph he needed to revisit one of his personal goals in life.
 - placed in charge of the Pinewood Derby races for our local pack (and thanked profusely afterward by other leaders who said they had no idea how they would have done it without me).
 - priviledged to have several conversations with a few of my kids, helping them learn how to take responsibility and ownership for their schoolwork and extra-curricular activities (instead of blaming society, or their teachers, or their parents as seems to be prevalent in society nowadays

So take a moment, if you can spare it, and think about someone who has influenced you for good in the last week (or longer ago if you need).  And let them know what they've done for you.  It will make you feel good and it just might make their day, week, month, or year!

Song Of The Day:
Inspired by my brother-in-law's recent efforts to revisit one of his life goals, today's song is "Breakout" by Swing Out Sister.  No, he is not in prison or anything like that.  Rather, the song title makes me think of how he is pushing himself to break out of his current life mold and reshape himself into the man he thought he would be at this stage in life.  It's virtually never too late!  Way to be Bro!  Way to be!  (and good luck!)  :)


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ever Get To Work From Home ?

I love my job.  Progressive is a great company to work for, but my specific role within the company is even cooler!

You see, I have not been feeling well all weekend (my weekend consists of Sunday and Monday) and when I woke up this morning I just knew I would not be able to make it into work today.  I also didn't really want to go in because I don't want to spread any germs, etc. if this is more than just a little nasal congestion.

Enter: my work laptop and some pretty cool technology.

I am sure for many people in this day and age, the ability for me to virtually logon to the network at work and complete a full day's work from the relative comfort of my own home office is not that impressive.  But for me it always is a blessing!

I met with my boss (talked on the cell phone about a few urgent matters), reviewed calls for members of my team, completed WBTs (web-based training courses) for our new main system, IM (instant message) chatted with over ten different people (some on my team, but most from other work departments), reviewed attendance, updated performance management info for two team members, coordinated plans around a schedule change for one of my team members, scheduled meetings and a host of other items.

All while sniffling and sneezing and trying to stay hydrated.

How cool is that ?!  For me, VERY cool!

Song Of The Day:
Once again, this is a bit of a stretch, but I've always liked the song
"Unbelievable" by EMF and it applies for today.  It is just quite unbelievable to me that I could complete a full day's work from my own home ... and for most that work with me, it was no different than my being in the office.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Not Into Acapella Music? How About Instrumental ?!

I want to be fair to all kinds of music and with several recent posts featuring the human voice I felt it was only appropriate to share some music with no human voice but just instruments.

A good man on my team at work introduced me to "The Piano Guys" and once I saw one of their videos (I think I saw Cello Wars first) I was hooked!  These two artists (with several videos that now feature other artists, including singers, etc.) do some simply amazing things with a cello (or several cellos to be more precise) and a piano.  The videos are almost as amazing to watch as the music is to listen to.  Creative, funny, but also beautifully connected to the music they are playing.

Song Of The Day:
While starting my "Recovery Week" (that's what they call the 4th week of the P90X program) with Yoga X tonight, I found myself thinking about peaceful music that inspires.  One of my favorite mash-ups that The Piano Guys have done is Beethoven's 5th and OneRepublic's Secrets.  They titled the song
"Beethoven's 5 Secrets" and the video contains some beautiful, scenic images that complement the beautiful music.  I hope you like it.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Capella Anyone ?

I love acapella music (but then I've said that many times before).  I listen to acapella stations on virtually any of the iPhone/iPad music apps I've ever downloaded (Songza, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, etc.)

In fact, it was from one of those apps (I forget which one specifically) that I came across the group "On The Rocks" which is an acapella group for a college I cannot remember at this moment.  I've enjoyed many of their songs on youtube as well as those that come up on these acapella stations on my iPad.  And one of those songs is, of course, the ...

Song Of The Day:
Often the non-studio versions of acapella songs lack something from the polished radio-ready versions ... but this one might be a very good exception.  Sure the studio version is great too, but this rendition of "The Moment" is one of my favorites ... especially just before the 4-minute mark when everyone joins the lead singer on the strong chorus line.  Chills every time!


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Isn't It Always Better Together ?

I am an introvert by nature.  This may surprise some people who know me only in certain settings (at work, on the basketball court, in church, during scouting events, etc.) because my outward energy often seems to be more full in larger group settings.

Truth be told, I revel in "alone time."  Sure I enjoy being around other people and most often that does boost my energy level, but it also drains me in a way I cannot really explain.  Some days it is just too much and I long for an hour or two where I am just by myself with no responsibility to anyone else.

With that in mind, I have to say that there is one person who I am almost never happy to be "alone" from.  And that's my awesome wife and best friend Karen!

I call her my "Pretty Lady" (which is a nickname whose origin will likely be a future blog post) and she just calls me "Handsome."

We actually get to see each other all the time, but we almost never seem to have enough "us" time.  Just time to talk about life ... and our hopes, dreams, fears, and random experiences we've had since we last got to just hang out together.  I realized how much I was missing this time in this past week and was grateful for the opportunity we had a few days ago to just "be together" without everything clamoring for our attention (kids, work, extended family, house, cars, etc.)

I love and appreciate you my beautiful bride!  Looking forward to "hanging out" again real soon!  :)

Song Of The Day:
I think my mom introduced me to Jack Johnson's music, but regardless of where my love of his music originated, he remains one of my favorite soft-rock styled artists.  His song **"Better Together" always reminds me of time spent with my sweetheart.  It is always better together with you my love!

**This is not the original album version of this song.  If you want that version click here.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Where Do They Disappear To ?

At the Case Place (our home filled with 9 people, the vast majority of which are not even close to adulthood yet) we seem to have very few major problems.  But we seem to have hundreds of tiny issues, some of which seem to be a constant source of stress (mostly for those two people in the home who ARE adults already!)

Herewith are the Top 5 "Seriously?!" Scenarios:
5.  Socks and shoes (and toys, of course) everywhere
4.  Absence of kleenex, toilet paper, napkins, or paper towels
3.  Lights left on in rooms with no one there
     (prior blog post on this one ... click here if you missed it)
2.  Used cups on every counter-like area in and around the kitchen (many with some form of liquid still in them ... is that chocolate milk?  eek!)

And finally ...

1.  No fingernail clippers to be found ... ever!

I, personally, have purchased at least four sets of fingernail clippers, in just the past year.  Not a single one of them is anywhere to be found in our home.  Not in the "junk drawer."  Not on the ledge that is higher than all but two of our kids can reach.  Not on top of the curio cabinet (which stands 6-feet tall).  Not in the computer desk drawer.  And certainly not in the fingernail clipper kit, which in and of itself came with three different clipper sets!

I have no explanation ... except, maybe, aliens!

Song Of The Day:
Yeah.  I am basically blaming aliens so I can tie this post into the song of the day.  It's "E.T." by Katy Perry.  I've always liked the song and heard it a week ago on the radio ... and I've been trying to think of a post that would allow me to use it.  Yeah, I know it's a stretch.  Oh well.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ever Have A Hard Day ?

Today wasn't necessarily that hard, but when you're not feeling the best even the simplest of tasks can feel extremely difficult.

I think it's time for some orange juice and extra sleep (early bedtimes don't have to just be for the kids now do they?!)

Song Of The Day:
Although this isn't the best version of this song, you can get the general gist from this live performance of "Hard Day" by OMD (Orchestral Manouevers in the Dark).  This song is one of my favorites from arguably my favorite group of all time.  Doesn't necessarily make me feel bere speaks to me when I've had a tough day (or couple of days).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What Do You Wanna Be When You Grow Up ?

We ask kids this question all the time it seems.  And they are so full of life and motivation and hopes and dreams.  The whole world seems open and available to them.  Even the sky is not the limit ... you can go beyond that!

Then something happens.

Dreams start to be distant memories.  Careers turn into jobs.  Aspirations become what-could-have-beens.  Goals get modified from grand to general.  Instead of running your own company you start planning to pay off a student loan (yours or your child's).

Even as we are progressing along the path to what we thought or planned to be "when we grow up," circumstances change and what we thought we wanted, turns out to be a bad goal.  Maybe "bad" is the wrong word.  Perhaps the goal is just no longer applicable based on experiences we've had that have shaped how we view the world and our place in it.

All this is just to say I've definitely felt that lately in my life.  Some might say it's a mid-life crisis sort of situation, but I don't know about that.  I am coming up on 15 years of time with my current employer (Progressive).  I'm very happy with the company and my role within it and the direction it is headed.  I'm not bored with my day-to-day work, nor am I actively (or even passively) seeking something different.  But I have had a large change in my career goals.  The role and position I felt like I was working toward doesn't appear to be what I thought it was.  The things I would have to give up to be eligible for and successful in that role are not entirely in harmony with my preference for leading and teaching people.  The odd thing is: I'm okay with that.

Time will tell what happens.  Perhaps the role I was seeking will become what I envisioned it to be.  Perhaps I will find that I no longer have the same passion for coaching and leading people so I will need to seek other career options.  Or perhaps I will remain in my current role for many more years and just find joy and happiness in it.  That doesn't have to be a bad thing.  It might be just what I should be when I grow up!

Song Of The Day:
I'm thinking "Right Here, Right Now" by Jesus Jones ... because I'm honestly happy where I am.  The line "there is no other place I'd rather be" sums things up pretty good.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Can We Stay Up Just A Little Longer ?

I normally detest this question.  It puts me in a very awkward position.  If I say yes, then I could be setting my kids up for failure (at least in terms of their sleep patterns and waking up on time, etc.)  If I say no, then I'm the "bad guy" who "never let's us do anything we ask!"

Yesterday evening it was a much easier situation where everyone wins.

My four daughters and their Aunt Jodie
(L-R: Myra, 2; Catalina, 5; Savannah, 7; Brooklyn, 9)
You see ... my oldest daughter Brooklyn asked the question because she had been reading scriptures to her younger sisters and wanted to finish the chapter they were on.
Cue the tears of joy.

Me:  "Yes.  Of course you can.  But after you finish that chapter you really need to go to bed."

My girls: "Thanks dad.  We love you."

Me:  "I love you too."
(long pause in the doorway)
"And I'm happy you like to read your scriptures."

Song Of The Day:
I don't listen to country music all the time, but there are some moments that are best captured with a twang-in-yer-voice kind of song.  "I Loved Her First" by Heartland is one of those songs and it was on my mind last night as I was leaving the Bunk House (that's what we call the huge room all four girls are sleeping in nowadays).  I know the day will come (not for at least a decade, but sooner than I'll ever truly feel ready for it) when I "give away" my daughters to their respective sweethearts.
For now, I'll cherish these special moments as long as I can.


Monday, January 21, 2013

You Want Me To Punch You ?

That was the question my sweet wife asked me during a conversation we had this very morning.  And she meant it in the nicest possible way.  She was actually trying to help me and oddly enough, it was a considerate offer.
Allow me to elaborate ...

It all started this morning (very early for a non-school, non-work day I might add) when she and I plus Brooklyn, Savannah, and little Spencer went to the eye doctor.  Spencer just tagged along because at less than two months his eyes are of no real concern yet.

Long story as short as I can make it without leaving out important details, we all got our eyes dilated during our exams.  I don't know about you, but I HATE getting my eyes dilated.  But I almost never say "No" when they ask because it's like once every year or two so I figure I ought to do it.  Anyway, the worst part is that it always takes like 3-6 hours before you can see things up close again (and it's also super bright!)

A little while after we got home, something caused Karen to tear up (the emotions are always interesting for the first few months after a newborn baby).  After she wiped away the tears she commented that they seemed to help her see better (perhaps the saltiness of the tears affects the dilation?)  And when I looked at her to confirm she was seeing better she asked me the Blog Title Question.  Her thought was that maybe I'd cry if she punched me.  So it wasn't an angry offer, but one of love.  :)

I love that woman!

Song Of The Day:
So in honor of my awesome wife I wanted to share one of my favorite Colbie Caillat songs.  We saw her in concert a few years ago at the Colorado State Fair and it was a great date night!  This song was from her first album and never released as a single, but it always makes me think of my beautiful wife and how we are "Tailor Made" for each other.  I love you Pretty Lady!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Looking For Some Good Leadership Advice ?

Although I don't read books as often as I used to (who has the time?!) my passion for reading as a means to absorb new material has never dissipated.

Through the years my tastes in reading material have evolved, often impacted by my current life situation.  Sometimes that has been family or relationship related, or driven by new priorities at work, church, or in my schooling.  The power of words lies not just in what is written, but in the way I can apply those thoughts to my own real and often very personal experiences.

One of my favorite blogs to read (as often as I can make time for it) is Leadership Freak by Dan Rockwell.  You might think the brevity of his posts would be my favorite thing about his blog, but you would only be partially correct.  My absolute favorite thing is that his words ALWAYS spur me on to higher thoughts about how I can be leading and serving others better.  And the application is NEVER limited to just work-related scenarios.  I have found his short essays to be helpful in almost every aspect of my life.  Very effective and efficient!

So check him out at the link above if you're looking for a daily dose of leadership advice.  I subscribed via email and even if it takes me a week or so to get around to reading his posts, they are always worth my while.

Song Of The Day:
This song might be a bit of a stretch for the title subject, but I believe it's applicable so open your mind here.  The song is "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood.  Here's how it applies (in my mind anyway): I believe leaders do what they do (lead) out of love for others.  They desire to help people, which leads them to a life of leadership.  So in that vein, bring me a higher love could be interpreted as a request for more love towards those we serve, which in turn will make us better leaders.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Where Are You Headed ?

Life takes many turns.  Some feel like a complete u-turn, while others are just barely noticeable after several months.  Not all of these turns feel good at the time, and those that do sometimes turn out to be down a path you'll spend years climbing back out of.  I've tried to become more aware of these more impactful shifts in the road of life so I can be aware of whether this is a good road to be on or not.

In the interest of people who might read this blog that might be impacted by this change, I'll speak a little vaguely.  Suffice it to say that I did not request this change, but I am very glad it has occurred.  I can see a much brighter future ahead.  I feel like my own personal goals are clearer now.  I am looking forward to learning from this change and feel exceptionally good about the support I now have that felt like it was lacking for the past few years.  It is a glorious feeling indeed!  The road will not necessarily be easy, but the view at the end will definitely be worth it!

Song Of The Day:
In the spirit of this "new direction" and change in my life, today's song is one of my all time favorites ... "Feeling Good" by Michael Buble.  There is almost an anger in his voice as he sings this tune, but I take that as more of a method of self-motivational speech.  It is more intensity than anger.  More passion for what is to come than wishful thinking about what might have been.  And the song just makes me feel good whenever I listen to it!


Friday, January 18, 2013

How Cold Is Your Garage ?

I understand that a garage is not supposed to be the same temperature as the inside of your home, but shouldn't it be closer to that temperature than the temperature outside?
(For those keeping score at home I was able to successfully use the word "temperature" 3 times in that sentence.)

This is not a new occurrence.  The garage has been very cold each of the past two winters we have lived in the house.  This past summer I "finished" the west wall, complete with added insulation, sheetrock, mud and tape, and a coat of paint.  It didn't seem to help much with the temperature.

I know that the connection between the actual garage door and the frame around it is probably making the biggest difference in the temperature, but I am unsure of how to create a better seal.  Do I call a garage-door repairman?  Can this be a DIY thing?  Do I need to "finish" the small unfinished part of the walls that sit on either side of the garage door frame?

The biggest issue is this ... for most of the "fixes" I want to try, the temperature needs to be much warmer for new seals to stick, etc.  Obviously that doesn't ever really happen during the winter, but when the weather is warmer in the summer I just forget about the need to fix the seal!

Song Of The Day:
It is Friday ... and my buddy Mark at work quoted some of this song today ... and it does relate to "cold" ... I just feel like I have to explain why I'm including this in my blog ... yes, it is that bad!  The song is ... "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice ... I don't mind admitting that I knew all the words back in 8th grade ... I do mind admitting that I probably still remember them all.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is The Baby Asleep ?

As the father of seven children (ranging from 13 years old down to less than two months old - at the time of this posting) I have plenty of stories about my kids and more than enough experiences that have been repeated time after time after time after time after ... well, you get the idea.

I only share a tiny fraction of these experiences with others for two main reasons:
 - First, they are personal and I hold many of them as too special to share.
 - Second, most people don't want to hear stories about other people's kids!

So this won't be a story, but rather my commentary on an experience that I think many parents have had.

Spencer Joseph (Baby #7) sleeping
I'm terrified of little babies.  Not like "Oooh that kid is scary" but more of a "I hope I don't break him/her by holding him wrong, etc."  That said, I love to look at them and hold them when they are sleeping or right near that point of falling asleep.  I think this is when they look the most peaceful and give us a glimpse of heaven.  Don't you agree ?

Song Of The Day:
It goes without saying that I love a capella music.  I have nothing against instruments, but there is something so exciting about hearing a song comprised of just the human voice.  I came across the Christian group A Capella and one of their songs is "Hush" which I love!  It makes me think of a litle child about to go to sleep ... and that always makes me happy!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why Should I Believe You THIS Time ?

How much can people change?  And how long can we (or should we) keep believing that things with them will be different?

I believe people can change completely.  I've seen it in the lives of people around me, mostly good but sometimes for the worse.  But I wonder if I'm being too naive to believe in certain people who continually promise they will change?  Only to have them break those promises and then drag out the same tired excuses for their stagnant status.

I remain the hopeful optimist with almost 100% of the people I interact with.  But that hope turns into cautious realism every time another promise is forgotten.  Forgiveness will always be there, but I don't feel bad for the hope dissipating.  Should I ?!

Song Of The Day:
I came across the group Nickel Creek while watching some actual music videos on VH-1 or MTV back in the day.  They were a bluegrass group and had some reasonably popular songs on the country music charts.
Then about a year ago, out of the blue, I came across this video and song called "Doubting Thomas" and immediately loved it.  The video is a bit somber and sad, but the melody is hauntingly beautiful.  Check out some of their other stuff if you like this one (lots of it is upbeat and they have some straight instrumental tunes too!)


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What Kind Of Madness Is This ?!

Okay ... so maybe that title will motivate people to read this blog ... which is actually not about anything all that crazy.

Most often, my blog topics are the subject of something I've been thinking about for a while, or some event (importance in the grand scheme of things is not a prerequisite) that I just feel like venting about or commenting on.  I then think through the variety of different types of music and songs I like to listen to and pick a song to match that particular topic.

Today was different.

Today, I am writing my blog to match the song I wanted to share.  And it's a short commentary about politics.  It is madness (in my opinion) to try to solve problems by pointing a finger of blame
at any ONE person
(Bush or Obama),
(Gun Control or Abortion),
(Democrats or Republicans),
or philosophical opinion
(Evolution or Creationism).

Yet, this is what society (at least here in my neck of the United States) seems to favor over this one simple truth: nobody is perfect.

When we can agree that diversity of thought makes us stronger and that we can truly "agree to disagree" while still working well together on the things we DO agree on ... then we will be the nation our founding fathers envisioned when they first established my homeland!

Song Of The Day:
While driving home, thinking of what I wanted to post about today, I caught the last minute or so of today's song.  I had no idea who the artist was, nor did I know the song title.  But that's the magic of YouTube, coupled with my somewhat unique ability to pick out singers voices and the style of music of certain groups.

I was fairly certain (since they say the title so many times during the song) that the song title was "Madness" (or at least had that in the title) ... then the technotronic sounds and simple, harmonious melody reminded me of the group Muse.  Lo and behold, within about 30 seconds on YouTube, I was able to confirm that Madness is in fact the title of the song and Muse is the group that sings/plays it.

And that's the whole reason for my blog today.  Just to share this cool song I'd never heard before but really liked from the few notes I heard of it on my drive home.  And maybe vent a little about the madness of politics.  :)


Monday, January 14, 2013

Who Left The Lights On ?

I say this all the time in my house.  It seems like every room I go into has a light on in it, whether there is anyone in that room or not.  This alone is troublesome, but it's not really the most bothersome thing to me.  What bugs me the most is ...

When did I become that guy ?!

I'm really confused.  How did this happen?  At what point did I become some sort of vigilante with these on and off switches.  It's not like I have to change that many light bulbs (they last for the longest time).  It's not like they really use that much energy (and I'm certainly not an energy conservationist ... although I do support the cause).
So why am I so charged up (pun intended) about this?!

My best guess is that it all started when I began working again with the Cub and Boy Scouts over 6 years ago.  There is a concept in Scouting called "Leave No Trace" and while it is more centered on camping and outside situations, the message applies anywhere: Leave a place as good or better than it was when you first arrived.  And so my obsession with turning lights off when you leave a room was born ... I think.

Song Of The Day
I thought for a little while about different songs that might apply to the topic of today's blog and then it hit me!  "I See The Light" from the movie Tangled (sung by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi).  I loved this song the first time I heard it (which was while watching the movie on a daddy-daughter date with my oldest daughter Brooklyn).  Who knew "Chuck" had such a great singing voice?!  :)


Sunday, January 13, 2013

You Really Shaved It ?!

A curse upon all ye who wished for the Denver Broncos to lose yesterday, if only because you really wanted me to shave my awful (and magnificent) beard.
(I'm talking directly to YOU, Kevin and Amy Amsden!)  :)

So below are links to the videotaped demolition of my beloved Bronco Beard.

If you don't have time to watch the 3-4 minutes of videos, here are some pictures taken at various stages during the process.
Me personally?  I'd skip the videos.

The Final Bronco Beard
My version of "Mutton Chops"
How YOU Doin' ?! ... Ladies!

I hope you're happy!  (Sarcastic tone is hard to type!)

Song Of The Day
Today's song of the day is on the spiritual side and it's not related to the beard-shaving at all.  Instead it is related to a great musical number that was performed by Lou and Jared Burton in Oakwood Sacrament Meeting today.
They did not sing "All Creatures Of Our God And King" but this version by Eclipse (an a capella group my cousin James Case sings bass for) reminds me of the awesome sound and uplifting spirit their (Lou and Jared) singing of "Be Still My Soul" brought me today.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

How's The Elevation Treating Ya ?!

I often forget (because you just don't think about it all the time) that we live at roughly 6000 feet in elevation here in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The times I remember about the elevation difference are usually when I am reading articles talking about visiting professional teams having to come to Denver, CO for some sporting event.

You might not be aware, but the Baltimore Ravens had to come here today for their NFL Playoff game against the Denver Broncos.  Welcome to MILE HIGH + boys!  Hope you brought your oxygen tanks and masks!  (Editor's Note: Apparently the Broncos defense forgot to bring theirs ... how disappointing!)

Song Of The Day
I've had several friends share some of their favorite music with me over the years, including burning me CDs, etc. so I can expand my experience.  This song was brought to my attention by Linda Schow, a good friend from work.  Originally performed by the group Postal Service, "Such Great Heights" has been performed as an a capella song by many groups in the last 5 years.  The performance linked above is one of my favorites, done by Umass Dynamics.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Why Don't You Just Say What You Need ?

I think most of us have at least one relationship in our life in which we find it difficult to just be open, honest, and maybe a little selfish.

For some it is at work.  You just don't have the wherewithal to tell your boss (or your employees) what you need from them.

For some it is at school.  You just can't muster the courage to admit that you need help.  Deciding your major.  Understanding math or science.

For some it is with family.  You don't have the heart to possibly hurt your parent's or sibling's or kid's feelings.

For some it is with your spouse or significant other.  You worry that the relationship will suffer if you are too open and honest, or that the person you care about will no longer care for you in the same way.

I say ... let's all get over it!

Talk to your boss or co-workers about your goals.  Ask a counselor or teacher to recommend the right kind of supplemental schoolwork.  Tell you mom, dad, sister, brother, or child that you love them but that you need space, time, or whatever it is.

And by all means ... tell that loved one what you need in your relationship.  It is a recipe for sure-fire failure when we begin to expect others to just know what our needs are.  Just because you have to tell someone what you need doesn't mean they are only fulfilling that need because you told them to.  The key here is ... you're giving them options to love and support you.
If they do what you ask for, then they are choosing to show you how much they care.

Song Of The Day
In the spirit of this blog post, please listen to the song "Say" by John Mayer.  Love him, hate him, I don't care.  But you cannot deny the powerful words and message of this song!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Are They Really Going ?

When you are close to someone and they leave, regardless of whether it is expected or unexpected, there will eventually be a time when you will realize how much you love that person.

Late this evening, just before my first ever Yoga X workout on P90X, I checked in on my kids in their rooms.  I found my oldest daughter Brooklyn wrapped in a blanket, sitting on top of her clothes dresser, and looking very much like she was about to cry.

I told her to climb into bed and then asked her what was the matter.  She started to cry and asked me the title question of this blog post.  She was referring to my parents, who are moving to Arizona, and plan to leave for about a month tomorrow morning.  I pulled her in for a big daddy hug and then we spent a few minutes huddled together while I comforted her with some words that I cannot recall exactly at this time.

It did not occur to me until halfway through my yoga workout (probably because my mind finally cleared up enough to be open to the idea), that my children have all been extremely blessed to always live in the same city as both of their sets of grandparents.  Only then did it hit me why my sweet daughter was so concerned.  She has never really experienced the "loss" of someone so close.  She has had some good friends move away, but virtually all of her extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.) are all here in Colorado Springs.  Even her Aunt Jodie, who has lived in California and now resides in Denver, has never really been very far away for very long periods of time.

So might I suggest you hug a loved one and tell them you love them.  Make time for your family, because even if they only move away it can still feel like they are gone.

Song Of The Day:
This experience with my daughter reminded me of a song from my youth.  The author of the song is Michael McLean, but I am not sure who the singer is.  The song is "Together Forever Someday" and can have many meanings.  Most often I heard it when someone had passed away, but the message works for any separation scenario.  I don't preach in this blog, but I do believe that Heavenly Father's Plan for us is to return to live with him and be reunited with our family and friends.  That thought has provided me an immense amount of support through trying times in life and I plan to share it with Brooklyn tomorrow morning, to help her find comfort in that eternal perspective.
**Sorry that the video for this song is just clips from the movie "The Lion King" ...
it was the best audio version of this song I could find on YouTube.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What Online Games Do You Play ?

Over the past 5 or so years I have played a variety of different online games.  This mostly started on Facebook but then when I got my own iPad, it morphed into various apps and other types of games.

My favorite, for now anyway, is this music game called SongPop.  If you've never played it, the basic concept is to correctly pick the song title or artist from four choices as you listen to a clip of the actual song.  You want to be faster than your opponent, but you also need to be accurate because the points get exponentially higher the more correct answers in a row you have.  Not to brag, but I'm pretty good at this game, even against people who are well versed in certain playlists.  Turns out all those years of listening to music from a variety of different genres is finally worth something!  :)

I've also been enjoying a few golfing games, which were free when I downloaded them but apparently now cost .99 cents.  I've already beaten every challenge and level on Super Stickman Golf, but it's still a fun game that doesn't require an internet connection to play.
The same can be said about Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2012, except I'm only in April of the 12-month PGA Tour season.  But I've already maxed my golfer's skills out, which is why I'm totally dominating on the Tour now.  Still quite fun and addictive though.

There are a lot of "With Friends" games (Words, Scramble, etc.) but my favorite right now is Matching With Friends.  This game takes almost no time to play, involves a little skill and patience, and you can earn coins easily to increase your chances of winning.

So what online or mobile games do you play?

Song Of The Day:
Inspired by a recent round of SongPop I played, today's tune is "Mambo #5" by Lou Bega.  From the first time I heard it I really liked the tune.  And it is very easy to identify (for me anyway) quickly when it comes up on SongPop.  Bonus side-story ... my younger brother actually had dated a "Jessica" around the time when this song was popular.  So it was fun to tease him about that back then.  :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Are You In Charge Here ?

That's the question I got asked tonight at church basketball.  And of course I answered in the affirmative ... and then asked how I could help.

Tonight marked the start of the first full Men's Church Basketball season that I am fully in charge of.  From creating the schedule to coordinating the permission to schedule the building for the games to updating and supervising rules changes and of course, keeping the coaches and other leaders in the league abreast of all of the above.

I have some great help from my buddy Mike Hepworth, who agreed to accept the assignment to be our basketball specialist.  Because of that, I only have to be at the church one night each week instead of two.  He helped out a lot last year ... and yet was still willing to serve this year to.  A big ol' southern "bless your heart" shout out to Mike!

The game was close.  My team (Oakwood) lost by 11, but we came back from some big deficits in the first half and actually cut the lead to 7 points with 3 minutes to play.  The other team (Meridian) shot the lights out and it seemed every oddbounce landed in one of their player's hands for an easy layup or ridiculous, but made, toss-up shot.  Fun was had by all.  Tempers didn't flare (except people like me who get mad at themselves for silly mistakes).

It's gonna be a good 8-week season!

BTW ... I still did my Plyometrics workout for P90X when I got home.  Tomorrow will prove just how bad an idea that was!

Song Of The Day:
Today's song is actually a very short song that you'll recognize if you lived in the 80's and remember when there was only ONE KIND of Gatorade.  I have no idea who originally sang "Be Like Mike" but this version linked above was remixed by MC2 and the video (if you watch it) contains Michael Jordan's best 10 dunks (you can argue against it ... but not with me ... I'm just sharing the song!)

**Astute readers may make the connection between this song and our basketball specialist.  :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Can You Feel Your Arms Bro?!

Day One of P90X.  Can't lift fingers.  Can't feel arms.  Josh Jr and Ben did about 1/2 the workout with me.  We all only did about every third Ab Ripper X exercise.  Don't feel guilty at all though.  Too sore for guilt.

Song of the Day:
Today's song is from the a Capella choir the Beelzebubs, from Tufts University.  The album version is 100 times better than this YouTube version, which is still pretty darn good.  The song is "Kings and Queens" and it has a pumping rhythm that can motivate through a tough workout.  Ahhh.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Last Mountain Dews?

Tomorrow I begin my P90X workouts.  My apologies to any regular readers but you're gonna hear a lot about them in my blog until I quit or get bored writing about them.

Today's blog post is actually based on a line from the song of the day (linked below for your listening pleasure).  The line from the song states "Live a life less sedentary."  And that's another main reason for me to be doing this P90X challenge.

I will also be avoiding as much sugary stuff (the biggest being soda) as possible in the next 90 days too.  So today I enjoyed my last three Mountain Dews for a while.  They cannot co-exist with my workout goals!

Here's to a life less sedentary ... and (after, not during the workouts) a lot more healthy energy!

Song Of The Day:
I first heard the song "Life Less Ordinary" by Carbon Leaf on a new MP3 player I got several Christmases ago.  I deleted most of the free songs that were already loaded, but kept this one because I really like the tune, especially the "honey understand" refrain in the middle of the song right before the breakdown to simple guitar and drums.  Singing along every time.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What's a Fok-a-guyal ?

My apologies for what is by far my most crude-sounding blog post title in history!  It is NOT what you think!!!  But it is spelled phonetically so you can appreciate the laugh I had yesterday.

Myra, our 2 1/2 year old, is at that great age where her speech is just too funny not to share.  She also loves it whenever I get home from work.  She will come tearing through the house from wherever she is screaming "Daddy home!  Daddy home!"  Then when she sees me and I pick her up in a big ol' hug, she always points at me and says "Daddy!  You home!"

Yesterday, right after I set her down from our obligatory (and often quite lengthy) hug, she pointed to the wall and said "Dat a fok-a-guyal."

About 95% of the time I can understand what she's saying ... this was part of that other 5%  It was especially difficult considering she was just pointing at ... a wall.  So I asked her to say it again.  She moved closer to the wall and said "See?!  Dat a fok-a-guyal!"  I looked at her, still bewildered, and so she pointed to another spot on the wall and said "Dat him tay-ull.  See?!"


A "crocodile" !!!

There was a shadow being cast on the wall from some books and Karen's purse on the ledge between the hall and the dining room ... and sure enough, it actually had the rough shape of a crocodile.

I took video (on my phone) of her saying this ... but I'm not sure how to load it to this blog so I may just do a separate post on Facebook to share it.

Song Of The Day
In honor of my no-longer-baby-since-Spencer-is-here-now daughter Myra.  Tonight's song is "Baby" by Bobby McFerrin.  I loved this song even before I had my own kids, but now I sing along to it as a parent of 7 ... the music is still just as awesome, but now the words mean even more to me.

Friday, January 4, 2013

How Bad Do I Want Those Abs Back ?!

Oh boy.  This will be one of my greatest successes or most horrific failures (and I've had some reasonably bad mess-ups ... so that's saying something!)

This coming Monday, January 7th ... I will begin the Standard P90X program, which will run until the very day before one of my good buddies gets married (shout out to Greg and Erin!)

For those who haven't seen me in years, I'm not that bean-pole I used to be ... but I'm also not really overweight or out-of-shape either.  To be honest, this is probably about the best shape of my life I've ever been in ... but I can't see my abs any more and that bothers me enough to make a BIG commitment.

I believe I owe it to myself (at least once in my life) to seriously "work out" instead of just being active by playing basketball and wrestling with the kids and so on.  I have not really "lifted weights" since high school.  I can't tell you the last time I did a pull up or a sit-up.  (I've had some push-up wars with my older two sons so I'm doing all right in that regard).  I have talked about doing this since several years ago when I first hit my 30's ... but I wasn't really commited enough.  I think I am now.

I will commit to posting my before, during, and after pictures at one of the following checkpoints:
#1. Upon completion of the entire 90-day program.
#2. Within one week after I "give up"

Obviously, the second scenario above is a "scared straight" sort of motivator for me.  I have no desires at all to share a picture of myself in just shorts doing silly flexing poses.  The fear of having to share just those embarrasing "before" pictures should be enough motivation to keep #2 from ever happening.  I hope.  :(

Song Of The Day:
You would think that today's song would be related to exercising and being motivated and achieving a goal ... and you'd be right.  I have chosen a song I recently downloaded (after having loved it for over a year).  The song is "Faster" by Matt Nathanson.  It's not about exercise, but the lyrics could easily apply to the P90X workouts (from what I've previewed).  Let's do this!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Who Says Flying Would Be Faster ?

Everyone makes the exact same assumption ... and I'm sick of it!
"If I could fly, that would be so much easier/better/faster, etc."

For sake of argument we will bypass the ridiculousness of any scenario in which your 150 to 350 pound person would even be capable of getting airborne.  Let's just assume it was possible and you are now "in the air, a.k.a. flying."  It is absurd to assume that the same laws of gravity and physics would somehow not be in existence any longer.  If that is the case, I should think that "flying" would not be any easier/better/faster for 99.9% of the population.  Let me break this down for you.

First, it would not be easier.  The energy needed to propel yourself through the air would at least be equal to that energy needed to move your body on the ground.  Did gravity just stop being in effect as soon as you got off the ground?  I think not.  In fact, some argument could be made that the higher you fly off the ground the greater the weight of gravity pulling you down, thereby actually making it harder to fly than to walk, run, or otherwise move around.

Second, it would not be better.  How could it be better than riding or driving in a car?  Remember that this is just you flying and not "you in some contraption that flies."  So the correct comparison would be with you walking or running somewhere.  I seriously doubt that your main reason for driving everywhere is because it's too cold to walk or run or whatever.  Which leads to my last point ...

Third, it would not be faster.  In fact, it might actually be slower than any other mode of transportation.  At least with a bicycle (a machine, but one powered initially by you) you can "coast" some of the time and let the bicycle carry you further.  Can you "coast" while walking or running?  Try it.  Let's see if that kinetic energy keeps you moving forward when you don't lift your foot and take that next step.

So the only 0.1% of the population (and that is probably generous) that would benefit from flying might be the long distance runners (marathoners) and the really, really skinny but still having some muscle mass people.  They alone would have the stamina and weight ratio to enable them to travel the necessary distances without wishing they hadn't.

This is the kind of thing that I think about while I drive home from work.  Sorry.

Song Of The Day:
Although not really related to the subject of flying, the song "Gravity" by John Mayer is apropos, at least in the sense that in the song he seems to wish gravity didn't exist.  So that's a shout out to all you who would still believe flying would be easier/better/faster.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Can We Really Make It The Whole Year?

Tis the season to make resolutions.  Out with the old and in with the new.  Bad habits be gone.  New promises to "eat healthier" and "exercise more" or "stop smoking" or "stop losing your temper" or "reading more good books" or "watching less tv" ... or perhaps even blogging daily.  :)

The start of the new year is always full of so much promise.  Everyone believes they can begin anew and really make the resolutions stick this time!  I think this is a good thing.  I believe in our power to change.  I also believe that 99.9% of us want to change for the better and improve ourselves each day.

But I also understand how easy it is to fall back into prior patterns of behavior.  Our vices can sneak up on us and all of a sudden we're in the rut we've dug for ourselves over years of similar actions.

I'd like to offer a few thoughts on how to make this year different:
 - First, don't think of the long-term change.  Just "win the day." Looking too far ahead can cause you to lose steam and give up.
 - Second, talk to others about your goals.  There is real power in peer pressure / support.  Why do you think people have so much better success when they have a personal trainer or mentor or life coach?  Sometimes you need an "objective other" person to reignite your passion to change.
 - Third, celebrate your success.  A recent article I read talked about how our brains are programmed to like winning.  Even if it is a child's game like rock, paper, scissors ... the victory, however small, builds our confidence and releases positive endorphins.
 - And fourth, don't quit just because you miss one day or have one slip-up.  Instead, change your viewpoint and let that relapse remind you of how much better the new you is versus that old you.

So set some resolutions and stick to them.  And if you need someone to celebrate your success with, just give me a shout!  :)

Song of the Day
Today's song is "Some Nights" by the group Fun.  I love this song (minus the f-bomb).  The pulsing drum beats coupled with the passion in the lead singer's voice get me drumming and singing along every time.  In the mellower middle of the song there is a line wherein he asks himself "So this is it?  I sold my soul for this?" and other questions about the decision(s) he has made that led to this point in his life.  If that's not a resolution-related epiphany, then I don't know what one is!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

So What's With The Beard?!

I told people it started with "No Shave November" but the truth is that it began a few weeks before that and I just used that yearly ritual as a cover.  Why?  No real reason.  Maybe it's a continuation of the superstitiousness.  Maybe I just wasn't ready to share the truth yet.  Maybe I wasn't really convinced about my reasons.  Maybe I was waiting to start my 2013 blog.

So here's the unimpressive and arguably silly reason behind my lack of shaving the beard for the past 3 months:
The Denver Broncos and their 11-game win streak.

After a 2-3 start I was very low on hope and expectations for my home team.  So, secretly, I made the decision to not shave my beard until the Broncos lost another game, in the ridiculous hopes that this would help turn the season around.  Who knew that they would then win-out in the regular season and earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first round bye?!

This is very exciting as a fan, but has now created a severe problem.  If the Broncos continue their dominance and go on to win the Super Bowl, I'm theoretically not going to shave until next season ... Basically 8 months from now!  I cannot bring myself to rooting against my team, but I really don't want to have a "wizard" beard all through this next summer!  :)

Song Of The Day:
Writing my other blog was too much work so instead I'll just be adding a song to each daily blog this year.  It will be a sort of theme song for that day ... mostly just a personal memory, but I think you'll enjoy the music nonetheless.

Today's song is Summertime by The Jamies.  You'll almost certainly recognize the chorus immediately, but likely have never heard this version unless you lived in the 1950's.

In honor of our good friends the Summers (Aaron, Britney and their kiddos) who stayed with us the last two days and rang in the new year with some quirky new traditions (epic hide-and-seek in the dark!)