Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why Is Leaving Always So Hard ?

It is never easy to say goodbye when you love someone, even when you know the day is coming and you know you'll see them again (perhaps very soon).  There is just something troubling when you and they must separate for a time.  It never feels good.

For some people, this is evident even before the departure.  It manifests itself in anger, tears, or what I like to call 'trial separation' where you just subconsciously distance yourself from the other person for short periods of time.

Just some random photos of the kids from Fort Morgan

For others, it comes as a wave of emotion right as the separation begins to happen, like uncontrolled tears as you drive away or a pain deep in your gut when you realize someone is 'gone.'

And then there are people like me.  I do not experience either of the first two styles of dealing with separation, but it still affects me greatly in time.  Usually it comes just a little bit at a time as I begin to see things that remind me of the missing loved one.  A certain song on the radio makes me miss a friend.  Driving by someone's old house makes me long for them to be close once again.  I'll think of something funny to say and realize the person who would appreciate my humor the most isn't 'right there' any more to hear me say it.

No matter how you deal with saying goodbye, may I recommend that you remember to tell those you love that you love them.  Make it clear.  Make it known.  Leave no doubt about your concern for them.  And then look ahead to brighter days where you will be reunited once again.  I know I am looking forward to many happy reunions (in this life and in the eternities).

Song Of The Day:
It was many months ago when I heard the song "Daylight" by Maroon 5 on one of my many iPad radio apps.  I knew immediately that I would one day use it in a blog post, and this is the perfect post to use it in.  Although we left our dear friends the Amsdens in the afternevening today, I still knew the night before that in the next day we would "have to go" ... and I think we all tried to "hold each other so close" knowing our time together was drawing short.  Soon.  Together again soon.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Could We Finally Get ONE Good Sunset Picture ?!

One of the things Karen and I have struggled with, in all of our many vacations, is getting a good picture of the two of us with a nice sunset in the background.

We tried on our cruise last February.  Each night got more cloudy.

We tried on our cruise in September.  A variety of circumstances kept us from being on the right deck with a view of the sunset on each night (other people, late dinner time, exhaustion, good movies / entertainment, etc.)

Our trip, as a family, to Thermopolis, WY, also ended without a sunset photo.

And that's just in 2012!

This has become more of a quest than just a punch line or inside joke.

But last night we actually got a few very good photos with an amazing sunset over the ocean in the Gulf of Mexico.  It took a near miracle and some aggressive driving by my buddy Kevin, but we got it done!  Finally!

Our faces might not be as clear as I'd like ...
but this is still a very good picture I think!

Amy & Kevin (and Ethan)
Josh & Karen (and Spencer)

Song of the Day:
An apropos song if there ever was one, "At Last" by Etta James is THE song for today!  Just a perfect title for 'the wait finally being over'.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Why Are Those Angels So LOUD ?!

On Thursday we spent almost the whole day in Pensacola, FL.  It would have been the whole day but we're still on the 3 1/2 hour timeline for travel (see my prior blog post for any needed clarification).

We were fortunate to catch the Blue Angels for their flight practice (which is more like a demonstration because there are always huge crowds to watch the 'show').  Several things were amusing about the show (if you look closely at the photo to the right you will see a vendor selling coffee, water, danish, and ... earplugs! ), but the sheer volume (sound, not mass) of the planes was by far the most noteworthy!

Every year for the Air Force Academy graduation, I have the privilege of watching the Thunderbirds perform their air show for the Cadets and their families.  But even up fairly close, the sound never seemed anywhere nearly as loud as these aircraft.  I thought my ears would actually start bleeding.  I was holding a clingy Myra to my chest while she covered her ears with both hands ...
but who was going to hold me and cover MY ears?!  :)

Song of the Day:
I'm not sure that it was ever released for radio play, but "Hear You Me" by Jimmy Eat World is a great song that actually references angels, asking in somewhat prayer-like fashion "may angels lead you in."  Although loud, these 'angels' were a great lead in for the day!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Can A Change If Plans Turn Out Better Than The Originals ?

Yesterday had some vacation 'challenges' to say the least.  Best laid plans had little chance of success because ... it just takes longer when you're preparing, transporting, and sight-seeing with 20 people!

But, after some good open dialogue (the right kind of communication always makes things better, thanks Kevin A for suggesting it), the second half of the day went quite well.  Kids were super happy (beach time, morning hikes, pizza and movie night).  Adults got to do things they wanted to (beach, exercising, eating delicious homemade pizza, playing board games).  For me anyway, the day was darn near perfection for a vacation experience.

So it got me to wondering ... do we sometimes over plan things?  And would life be much better and/or easier if we only made partial plans and let the rest of life just fall into place wherever it may? I am a meticulous planner by nature, but there was something liberating about choosing to modify all of our afternevening plans yesterday.

I am positive my 13-year old son will not speak to me for
weeks after posting this picture.  The things boys will do
for attention from cute girls!  Josh Jr took it like a man!  :)

Song of the Day:
Sometimes inside jokes are the best kind of humor.  And in honor of that, today's song is "Something To Talk About" by Bonnie Raitt.  And the inside joke has to do with exercising ... and that should be enough to remember the hilarity that ensued yesterday as plans changed and laughter resolved conflict.
Beautiful humor.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Is It Time For Some Random Pics?

Yes, I think it is.

Here are some pictures from our first few days of Spring Break.

Savannah and Cat "Strike a Pose"

Captain Goofball at yer service!

Not sure why but there was lots of "spanking" on this trip

Just.  Look.  At.  All.  Those.  KIDS !

Josh & Kevin doing some side-planking

Myra and mommy (whose smile is being faked?)  :)

Yay!  Finally some age-appropriate toys!  :)

And this was the "serious" picture pose!

Karen and Amy spent LOTS of time in the kitchen

(I wanted to just insert a link to my Facebook page here ... But I can't figure out how to do so from an iPad or iPhone ... Sheesh this should be easier)

Song of the Day:
I've always liked the song "Take My Picture" by Filter.  I think it definitely applies for this post, especially Catalina's pose as the Statue Of Liberty!  :)


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What's The Significance Of 3 1/2 ?

When you rent a 'beach house' there is a reasonable expectation that at least some of your days will be spent hanging out at ... the beach! Thus far, (3 1/2 days in) we have been able to spend a total of about 3 1/2 hours at the beach. It's just a little cold and a lot windy.

So considering that we have 3 1/2 more days here, we realized that it is time to reconsider our plans for the rest of the week.  Our original thought was to go to New Orleans on Wednesday, but it is a 3 1/2 hour drive (if you take the ferry route, which conveniently doesn't run early or late enough in the day to justify the rest of the drive ... We would have about 3 1/2 hours in New Orleans, which is no better than a layover between flights).  We just can't justify that with 16 kids in two big vehicles.

Our older boys seem to be working off 3 1/2 hours of sleep each night (what did we expect putting two 11-year olds and two 13-year olds in a room together?!)

Our respective newest additions to our families seem to need about 3 1/2 naps each day.  But it also takes 3 1/2 hours to get them to take a nap ... So that's fun!

And this is my 3 1/2th blog post ... Since its not really fair to count it as a full post.  :)

Song of the Day:
It isn't a 3 1/2 song, but "3AM" by KLF is pretty close to the craziness of the lifestyles of this two-family beach house experience!  Fun, crazy, exhausting, exhilarating, and just a darn good time regardless of the weather, time of day, or experiences we're having!
(My aplogies, but the video is quite terrible upon further review, but I bet you'll remember the song!)  :)


Monday, March 25, 2013

Sweetie, What Are You Doing?

Catalina was the "Statue of Liberty"
Myra is looking over the water on the left
We spent several hours today (Monday) aboard the USS Alabama, which was a highly decorated ship during several wars in its heyday.  The whole ship is so massive you could easily get lost in hundreds of different areas.  Our kiddos had a blast turning knobs and dials all around the ship.  They also loved the fact that it was easier for them to climb and descend the tiny stairs inside the cramped quarters of the vessel.  It is NOT easy to go up or down these stairs when carrying a toddler, an issue I am certain the sailors who worked on this ship never had to deal with.

My favorite experience was when we were getting ready to leave.  Myra, 2 1/2 years old, wandered off and crawled into a very cramped (but perfectly sized for little kids) mechanical room.  I caught up to her and asked her this blog post title question.  She replied "But we nevuh go'n see dis pyace agayin ... So I wiz sayeen goobye."  It was just so sweet.  As I collected her in my arms to carry her to the car she sniffled a little and said "Bye bye big ship.  We go'n miss you.  Tanks for da fun."

Song of the Day:
I keep thinking of "Orinoco Flow" by Enya.  Most people refer to it as the "sail away" song because that's the refrain in the chorus ... Sail away, sail away, sail away.  But the song title is Orinoco Flow and its fitting for visiting a big war ship memorial.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Where Are You Headed ?

The police officer that pulled my wife over (for a non-working license plate light) asked her that question when he noticed the 8 kids in the Great White Van with us.  "Down to Alabama." Was her reply.  He asked "What's down there?" and she responded with "Our really good friends!"

She was right.  The Amazing Amsdens are some of our really good friends!

But more on them later ... I mention the police officer because of what happened after he came back to the car.  He began to explain to Karen that she didn't have any outstanding warrants (we knew that already) and was about to provide a mini lecture on the need to fix the light over the rear license plate ... when several cars drove past us on the highway, one of them having not moved over from the right lane.  The officer was in mid-sentence and then looked down the road ... "Yeah, he's not moving over."  He looked at us again, quickly handed Karen her paperwork back and just said "Um, you're free to go."  He then RAN back to his patrol car and sped off, presumably to chase down the vehicle that didn't move over as they passed us earlier.

I guess that car was worth more police points than ours was.  :)

Song of the Day:
I'll have to add the YouTube links later, but today's song is "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.  The moon was out while I drove through the night and I just kept thinking of this song.  There was no 'bad moon' but it is a catchy tune so don't read too much into it.  The cop experience was anything but a bad situation ... more funny than anything.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Has It Really Been 15 Years ?!

Today I celebrated my 15 year anniversary working at Progressive Insurance.  Of course I was on a family road trip driving cross country to Alabama, but in spirit I did think a little about my work journey over the past decade and a half.

It sure has flown by very, very quickly.

Me @ Progressive Field for
MLB Opening Day in 2012
(All expenses paid trip!)
*I was on the field for the
Opening Ceremonies
In March of 1998, when I first started work here, things were quite a bit different.  A few examples will highlight this pretty quickly:
- The Internet was pretty much brand-new still.  The dot-com craze had not yet begun, yet we had a website that already began to win awards.
- Progressive did not write auto insurance in all 50 states (NJ and MA were to litigious, and we had limited growth in FL and CA).
- Cell phones were just barely beginning to eliminate "pagers" as the popular hand-held device (PDAs were on the way ... what's a Smart Phone?)
- Popular advertising icons did not include Flo.  They were instead beer ads with frogs, horses, and silly frat-house humor.  In fact, you almost never saw an insurance commercial on TV.

My picture of most of my
Progessive gear (which
earned me the trip to
Opening Day 2012)

I actually only started with Progressive because I needed a more stable and steady income, since I was engaged to be married in May.  I only started in "Customer Service" because my other option was "AutoPro" and I thought that meant working on cars or something (it actually was the name of our sales department back then).  I could go on and on with stories, but they would have little meaning for anyone other than myself.  Suffice it to say, I am VERY happy that I applied and was hired all those years ago.  Thanks for 15 great years Progressive!  Here's to 15+ more!

Song Of The Day:
There are many different songs about time and how things change that could easily apply for this post ... but I've landed on "Time" by Hootie and the Blowfish for two reasons:
          1. I really dig the song.
          2. It's about time we have some Hootie in this blog!  :)


Friday, March 22, 2013

So Is This A "Trip" Or A "Vacation" ?

You may never have thought about it before, but I have often wondered when is a family outing considered a "trip" and when is time off considered a "vacation" ?

I submit for your consideration a very simple difference of definition:
- A "trip" is travel (anywhere) with or without other people.
- A "vacation" is a break from the stress of everyday life.

Amsden / Case 2012 Spring Break TRIP to Moab, Utah
(ONLY 11 kids and 4 adults!)
To that end, our family embarked today on a TRIP across the country to hang out at an Alabama Beach House (google map Fort Morgan, AL and you can't miss our location) with some great friends of ours (whose family is almost as big as the Case 9).
Josh & Karen vacation 2012
(Disney Cruise w/no kids)

Why is this not going to be a 'vacation' you ask?  Because there will still be 20 people who need to be fed, clothed, cleaned up after, and accounted for as we embark on several smaller trips to a variety of nearby destinations.

It might not seem like a difference to you, but I am certain I will feel a need for a vacation after this great family trip!  :)

Song Of The Day:
It's an all time classic for road travel, and deserving of it's place in the very start of our Case Family Spring Break 2013 Road Trip ... "On The Road Again" by Willie Nelson.  Here's hoping Mapquest is mostly accurate with the directions and estimated driving time (23 hours out, 21 hours home from Central Alabama).


Thursday, March 21, 2013

What Did I Even Pay You For ?!

This is not the hair from our van,
but it was about this thick in some spots
Every new used vehicle comes with some less-than-perfect aspects.  Besides the need for new tires (sooner than later, but not for a few thousand miles) and some assorted aesthetic fixes, there was only one reasonably large concern with our new van: Our friends have pets and had transported them in the van often enough that the vehicle had quite a bit of pet hair on the floor, seats, seat backs, and armrests.
I knew this before we bought the car though, so I thought it was no big deal.  I researched several car detail shops online and over the phone, so we just planned to pay someone to do the 'dirty work' of clearing all that pet hair out before our 3,000+ mile trip across the country.

I found a respected one-man operation and after a few chats on the phone with him, agreed to part with a large but reasonable chunk of money in exchange for his promise to 'get rid of the pet hair' and make it allergy-free for me (I do NOT do well in enclosed spaces with pet dander).

Long story as short as I care to make it ... after 6 hours working on the van, the tires were shiny, the engine glistened, the exterior was washed and waxed, and the floor had been vacuumed and shampooed.  When I picked up the van I was reasonably pleased and paid the man.  But by the time I got home, I could feel that the pet hair was not even close to being "gone."  In fact, on closer inspection when I got home, it almost appeared as though no actual vacuuming or cleaning of the interior had even occurred.  There was as much pet hair inside the van as there had been before!

I know many people will say "Demand your money back" or "Report him to the BBB" or some other actions of the retaliatory sort.  I respect your insight and appreciate your backing me up ... but that's just not me.  Instead, I have left a voicemail for the man and expressed my deep displeasure with the ONE THING I asked him to do having NOT been done.  This is enough for me.  Well that and writing this post.  Well those things and never wasting money on him again.  Well I suppose also making sure to let people know NOT to use him.

DO NOT use this auto detailer ... not worth ANY money
(unless you just want a wash and wax and tires sprayed)

Yeah ... that's enough.

Song Of The Day:
I have wanted to use this song in a blog post for a long time but never felt like the subject was worthy enough for the anger and pain expressed in this song.  I have mentioned many times before how arguably my favorite group of all time is Orchestral Manouevers in the Dark (or OMD for those who like to abbreviate).  There is a whole story behind many experiences I have had with their music, including finding friends who love the group almost as much as I do ... but for today, the song "That Was Then" from one of their more recent albums is all I have time to highlight.  It is more appropriate for an angry break-up song, but applies just as well to my frustrating experience outlined above in this post.
Fool me once, shame on you ... fool me twice?  I don't think so!  That was then ... this is NOW!  Grrrr.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Did You Buy A New Van ?

When your family expands from 8 to 9 people it changes many things.  You might think that after about 3 kids everything is roughly the same ... and for the most part you would be correct.  You just make more dinner, re-use the same wardrobe for the next round of kids, spend longer saying prayers at night (and brushing teeth, etc.) and on and on.

But travelling around town and on road trips is a completely different ball game when you make that one person change.

Many vehicles nowadays are equipped to transport up to 8 passengers.  To be fair, most of those vans and mini-vans and suburban-type vehicles are not counting 8 full-sized adults but rather refer to a family with different ages and sizes of children.

There are not nearly as many options for 9 passengers.  In fact, you basically jump to 10-passenger, 12-passenger, or 15-passenger vans if an 8-seater isn't going to cut it for you.  It is as though the world is unprepared for a 9-person family or group.  Why not stop at 8?  Why not bring a friend along to make it an even 10?  Nobody does things with just 9 people!  Freaks!

Anyway, long story not so short ... some friends of ours from church had a 2006 Ford E-350 Econoline van (12-passenger) that they no longer needed, as most of their kids are out of the house now. The price was fair for both parties and the timing was just too optimal to pass up. So this evening we completed the transfer of the vehicle (they had literally just paid off the loan on the van so the title tranfer will have to come later). Now a whole new slew of questions begins, starting with ... where are we going to park this behemoth?! :)

What monstrous van would be complete
without some stick figure people ?!

Song Of The Day:
Inspired by my own comment in the first line of this post, "You Might Think" by The Cars is a great 80's song that relates to misconceptions people have about going from 8 to 9 people in a family.  In fact, I thought nothing at all about the impact of our history of road trip travel as a family when we knew Spencer was on the way.  Thankfully it has all worked out and we should be able to travel quite nicely for many years to come (and even bring a few friends along!)


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why Was I So Worried ?

When I was a kid the thought of Parent Teacher Conferences always made me nervous.  I am not normally a worrier, and clearly wasn't much of one in my youth either (just ask my mom about all the stupid things I did that a normal child's 'worry-gene' would keep them from doing).

I sort of expected that as an adult this fear about a meeting with a teacher would dissipate.  It hasn't.

Ben (center) at the
5th grade Geography Bee

Today I left work early so that I could attend a conference with my 2nd son, Ben's, teacher.  I had been nervous all day about the meeting.  This was partly due to the fact that our kids almost never have scheduled conferences for us with their teachers.  In our school district (or at least our schools in this neighborhood), teachers often cancel a possible conference if there is nothing much that needs to be discussed.  If the student is progressing well, academically and socially, then parents just receive a (detailed) report card and a few notes from the teacher.  So the very fact that there was a need to meet brought on a sense of concern.

It was all for naught.

Ben is doing so well that he needs an ALP (Advanced Learning Plan), which is set up with the school's "Gifted and Talented" teacher in conjunction with a child's homeroom teacher.  That was the reason we needed to meet for a conference: to help set some goals for Ben's ALP.


Until the next time ...

Song Of The Day:
For some reason the song "Maybe" by Alison Krauss (and Union Station) came to my mind while writing this post.  The song itself is about love and moving on so it's not really applicable to the topic today ... but maybe I need to "move on" from worrying about things that have not come to pass yet.  I'm more of a realist than an optimist, but maybe that should change.


Monday, March 18, 2013

How Do You Know If A Song Is Going To Be A Huge Hit ?

I think it is obvious when a song is a "huge hit" ... but it must be very difficult to know before if a song is going to blow up the charts, sell millions of CDs or downloads, and either launch, springboard, or further cement the dominance of a singer's career.

I believe today's song of the day combines all of the most important keys to success that seem to suggest it will achieve "huge hit" status.  Herewith is my list of things that seem to make a BIG difference between good, great, and huge hit songs (in no particular order of importance):

 - Be about love (or love that is lost).
 - Include a "featuring" credit (bonus points if both the main artists and the 'feat.' artist are currently popular).
 - Have a catchy song intro (in this case a simple piano melody).
 - Allow the song to build to a climax, but end with the same tenor it began with.
 - Use instruments sparingly and only to emphasize key points or the beat.
 - Opposing points of view on the same situation, which work together in the chorus.
 - Strong voice solos from any/all artists who sing on the tune.
 - The presence of multiple "hooks" and/or possible song titles.
 - Appeal to a wide demographic (being about love usually helps with this).
 - Be unique enough to stand out from other recent songs, but not so unique that your song will seem out of place decades from now.
 - Produce a visually appealing video.
 - Generate word of mouth buzz and lots of radio airplay.

So I guess we'll see if this song becomes a huge hit or just stays as one of my recent favorites.  Time will tell, but I have to say I will be more surprised if this song flames out soon than if it is still played years from now on the radio.

Song Of The Day:
No, it is not titled 'Learn To Love Again' ... but it could have been.  Yes, those are two voices you are sure to recognize, but perhaps not the 'featured' artist's name.  Yes, it has a great hook, great video, is getting lots of airplay, and is about love lost (or in trouble at the very least).
Here is "Just Give Me A Reason" by P!nk, feat. Nate Ruess (he is the lead singer of the group Fun.)


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Do You Play The Piano ?

One of my great disappointments (which I could rectify, but know I won't) in life is that I do not know how to play the piano.  Or any instrument for that matter.  But piano music is one of my favorite styles, whether it be complemented by human voices or an orchestra, or is the single sound piercing through the air.

I chose the 'learn to sing' path in junior high and high school.  Some would argue I didn't learn much about singing during those years.  I might agree with those folks most of the time.

My mother taught piano for years growing up, but she (probably very wisely) did not want to teach me or any of her own children how to play.  I know if I had expressed an interest she would have coordinated lessons for me and I could have invested countless hours learning to play scales and read music (which I can mostly do now anyway) and practicing, practicing, practicing.  But I did not express any interest then and as an adult I do not have the commitment to start at the beginning.

Judge away, I don't mind.  I have come to grips with my non-piano-playing life and I am mostly content with it (I can't say 'content' by itself after starting this blog post by listing the non-piano-playing situation as one of my great disappointments in life now can I?!)

Instead, I support my wife in her gentle pushing of some of our children to learn to play.  Thus far 2 of the 7 kids have taken (or are taking) lessons.  Hopefully most of the others follow suit.  My oldest has moved on to the trumpet, which I admire him greatly for learning.

Hats off to you piano players!  Your talents bless the lives of many and even if you're a bit rusty, take comfort in knowing you can bring beautiful melodies and harmonies to life on an awesome set of ivories!

Song Of The Day:
There may not be a better day of the week to listen to classical music than the Sabbath.  Not all classical music has the most positive or spiritually uplifting themes, but many pieces can inspire deep reflection and the pondering of life's great mysteries.  And some, like Mozart's "Piano Concerto No. 8" are just a delight to listen to!  This is just the first movement from that concerto, but it has recently become one of my favorites.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Have You Checked At The Library ?

Did you know that the local public library has a great selection of books on CD !!!

I am not sure why the idea never came to me in the first place, other than the fact that our family never seems to go to anywhere BUT the children's section of the library.

There is a HUGE section of several hundred (maybe even a thousand or more) books on CD.  And they are not just old, outdated ones.  Most of them are books that have been written or become popular within the last 5 years, although there are plenty of classics available too.

Shout out to our home teacher (from church) James N, for the idea.  You see, I had explained to him how I like to drive through the night on long road trips, so that 8-10 hours of the drive are spent with the kids sleeping.  This saves on whining, hotel stays, and on meals at fast food places.  And, it allows me to get some "reading" in ... because I listen to books on CD while driving (in the wee hours between 10pm and 8am).  As long as the book is interesting (like a murder mystery or spy thriller or even a love story that has a good will they or won't they plot), I can stay awake perfectly during the dark of the night.  Secretly, I love this kind of driving because I don't have to hear people ask for food, water, pit stops, entertainment, or otherwise.

Anyway, James offered a few titles he has on CD, but then asked if I had checked the library.  What a brilliant idea!  Best of all, I now know of about a dozen books available on CD which I can listen to in my car on the drive to work and home.  So after our "Gulf Coast" trip, I plan to stop by the library every few weeks and get another book to listen to.  This is gonna be great!

Song Of The Day:
One of my mom's favorite artists from years ago is Barry Manilow.  Despite some odd dislike from the general population (which I think many great artists face), I've found many of his tunes to be very good to listen to and enjoy.
"A Little Traveling Music Please" is a song that I heard long ago, but I'm not sure when.  I've included it on personal mix tapes I made and on a CD of music for road trips.  I hope you give it a chance.  :)


Friday, March 15, 2013

Why Do Some Memories Stick So Permanently ?

We all have memories that stick with us.  Of course the first kind you think about are probably special memories or experiences you had with people you really cared about.  I understand why those memories stick with us.  There's a natural reasoning for that.

I'm wondering about random situations that cause very specific memories to come to mind, but these are not important for any particular reason.

Do you have these or is it just me?

Every time I am sitting in a meeting at work, I remember vividly a conversation with a former manager of mine.  He told me that when he gets bored in a meeting he will play with his belly button.  Now why on earth would I remember that?!

There is a certain road I drive down about once a month (if that often).  Every single time I drive on that road, I remember a time on my mission (in Los Angeles) when I was driving through some puddles in the rain and inadvertantly splashed this cat with a HUGE wave.  No significance to anything, right?!

When I hear today's song of the day, it always takes me back to when I was barely a teenager, living in Greeley, CO.  I can clearly remember the way my room was set up and how I used to look out the window just daydreaming.  I know songs can bring back memories, but there was nothing particularly special about daydreaming in that house in those days.  It's just weird to me.

So why do some, seemingly worthless, memories just become permanently etched in our minds?  I worry that there is some "save the world" reason for these, but I can't piece them together at all yet.

Song Of The Day:
This song is just the song for today because it is one of the songs that always takes me back to the same (plain) moment in time in my life.  "Cherish" by Madonna wasn't even my favorite song back in my Junior High and High School days.  But more than any other song, it conjures clear images of days gone by ... but not necessarily any specific, or rather important, experiences.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Which Lane Do You Drive In ?

In Colorado, there is a law which requires drivers to remain in the right lane (slow lane) unless passing another vehicle, in which case they can move to the left lane (fast lane).  This law is technically only enforced on the highways and freeways (but barely at all even on those roads).

As far as I am aware, there is no law regarding which lane you should drive in when you are on city streets, even if there are two or three lanes of traffic going each direction.

I noticed today that I always seem to prefer to be in the far right or far left lane when I am on a three-lane road.  What got me thinking about this is the fact that the south/eastbound left lane on Voyager Parkway (near my office) is riddled with potholes and patched potholes, etc.  It is very bumpy and I always swerve back and forth to miss all these road hazards.  Why?  Why don't I just move to the middle lane, which is almost perfectly paved and smooth, until I have to move over to take the left on New Life road?
It makes no sense.

So I started wondering if other people have a certain lane they naturally prefer to be in on city streets?  And if so, why do you choose that lane?

Thoughts?  Ideas?  Let me know.  :)

Song Of The Day:
It's back to the 80's for today's song.  It is a little crazy of me to drive in a bad, rough, bumpy lane just because that's what I normally do.  In honor of that, here is "She Drives Me Crazy" by the Fine Young Cannibals (who actually were not that young, only reasonably fine, and definitely not cannibals).  Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Have You Seen The iFunny App ?

Warning and disclaimer right off the bat here ... although the iFunny app contains some very funny material, MUCH of what is on there is either filthy, vulgar, or very age-sensitive.  Be forewarned that this is not an app to share with your kiddos!

One of the apps I visit several times a week is iFunny.  It is a place where users can upload photos, stories, comics, etc. that they find funny.  Several times each day the administrators for the site/app will "Feature" 20 different posts from visitors (there is a "Collective" section where all uploaded items can be browsed, but this is where most of the non-funny and often inappropriate items are found).  Below are a handful of examples of things that have been featured which I liked or found amusing enough to save as pictures on my iPad.  I hope you get a kick out of them.

Song Of The Day:
Since these pictures make me smile, and smiling makes me happy, I've decided on "When I See You Smile" by Bad English as the song of the day.  I sure hope that the above comics put a smile on your face.  Everyone looks better with a smile on!  (Except maybe the Joker or other villians).  :)


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What's This ?!

Is it art?

Is it trash?

Where did it come from?

Does it have some special meaning?

The answers you seek are all very simple.  But not very amazing.  Sorry.

This is what happens when a glob of solder (pronounced saw-der if you didn't know) drips from about 8 feet up and lands on a cold, cement floor.  After it dries and cools, it is almost like plastic and aluminum foil combined.  Flexible, yet hard.  Thin, yet heavy.  Simple, but also kinda cool.

At least we fixed the leaking pipe ... eventually.  :)

Song Of the Day:
It's hard to find a better song for this blog title than one of the exact same name.  "What's This?" from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas is a very catchy tune, although I've never seen the movie.  I know the song has nothing to do with solder, but c'mon ... it totally matches the blog post title!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Why Is Yardwork More Fun Than Chores ?

With the warmer weather slated for this week, I felt it would be a good use of time to get started on the LONG list of yard work projects today.  Trimming the bushes was more work than I thought it would be, but it felt nice to get it done.

As I moved to the backyard, I quickly found that basically all of my children that can walk (6 of the 7) wanted to be outside "helping daddy."  I was moving retaining wall stones in anticipation of clearing the dead stuff from the flower boxes, which left trails of dirt and crumbled stone parts all across the back porch.  The 3 older kids were helping to uncover the stones and carry them to our staging/stacking area.  Bless Brooklyn's heart for being tenacious enough to carry some stones by herself because they are heavy!

And then a funny thing happened ... Ben and Brooklyn began to argue over who got to sweep off the porch/patio area.  They both wanted to do it.  This is not funny by itself, but in context is basically absurd.  You see, in the house the "sweep the kitchen" chore is by far the least desireable among my older kids.  In fact, they often fight about who did it last so they can avoid it being their "turn" again for as long as possible.
So I didn't have a picture of the kids
helping outside ... so here's Baby #007
Spencer Joseph @ 3 months old.  :)

It got me wondering ... why are "outside" chores more desireable for my kids than "inside" chores?  Is this a long-term situation where the kids will be arguing to help all summer?  Or is it just exciting now because it is new, different, and "with daddy" instead of alone?
Whatever the reason, I'll take the help as long as I can get it!

Song Of The Day:
Today's song is "Tough Little Boys" by Gary Allan.  I chose this because Josh Jr and Ben worked pretty hard ... and they both volunteered to help (and were sad when I said we were done for the day).  This showed me how "tough" they are, but it also turned me into a little bit of a "big baby" because they're growing up so fast!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Who Can Leaders Vent To ?

I believe everyone is a leader in one way or another.  Parents are leading their children.  Bosses lead their employees.  Church leaders lead their congregations.  Scout leaders lead their scouts.  Older siblings lead their younger brothers and sisters.  And so on.

As both a leader and a follower (often in the same role), I have noticed one flaw that bothers me.  When you are in the "follower" role, you retain the right to complain, vent, question, and in general be more demanding and needy.  But in the "leader" role, you give up these priviledges.

Sometimes as a leader, I wish I could say what I am really thinking and/or react the way I naturally would as a follower.  Often the questions I am asked (across a variety of leadership roles) are reasonable, and I enjoy providing answers.  But sometimes ... sometimes the complaining and whining and "woe is me" becomes rather unbearable.  And that is when it really sucks to have to be the leader ... because you're not allowed to whine back.  Not that I am advocating any whining on either side.  But no matter what words or message the leader provides to a whiny follower, they will be received as an attack and lead to ... you guessed it ... more whining!

So I am open for suggestions from any readers out there.  When you're firmly in a leader role (in any capacity), who do you get to vent to?  How can we break the cycle of whining without just having to suck it up ourselves?

Song Of The Day:
Although it is a country song, "What Do You Want" by Jerrod Niemann could easily pass in several genres.  The tune is written more as a lost love song, but sometimes I can hear the desperate pleas of a "leader" who just wants the "follower(s)" to suck it up themselves.  Don't you get tired of "taking me back, taking me back to where I've already been" by making me repeat myself over and over.  Can't you just learn the lesson once and we can all move on?!  Sigh.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wanna See Pictures From Our Disney Cruise ?

Last September, Karen and I went on a Disney cruise (on a whim) with my parents, my younger brother and his wife, and my older brother.  The "Case Crew 7" stormed that Disney Fantasy ship with reckless abandon (actually we just played lots of cards in oareas, which did attract quite a crowd at times).

The view of the sunset from
the upper deck of the Disney Fantasy
(on our 2nd night of the cruise)
This blog isn't going to spill all the stories from that experience, but the pictures in the song of the day below at least show you some of the beautiful ocean and beach vistas we enjoyed.  I'm sure I'll blog more in the next week or so about the cruise, but for now enjoy the calming musicgreat pictures (mostly Karen's great photography).

Song Of The Day:
Here's the video "The Sands Of Ocho Rios" from my Sunset CD (it's a Lifescapes CD like those nature sounds ones that you can buy from Wal-Mart, etc.)  I've always enjoyed the relaxing sounds of the ocean in the background of this song ... and I enjoyed those sounds on our cruise too!