Friday, May 31, 2013

Would A Sign Help ?

Today was the first day of our HOA Community Garage Sale.  We have been in our house three years now, but this is the first time that we've decided to actually participate in this theoretically busy weekend of selling our no-longer-wanted stuff to people who might actually want it now.

This is not, however, our first garage sale.

One thing that has always bothered me about garage sales is that people always ask "how much for this?"  So I had what I thought was a brilliant idea ... why not post a HUGE sign that tells everyone that everything is the same price?
This will eliminate that question being asked an unnecessary amount of times, and actually may get people to stop, look at, and actually leave with some of our crap ... er, stuff.

So here's a picture of the 15 foot wide and 3 feet tall sign I spray painted for our garage sale.  It only took me about 15 minutes and I had plenty of leftover spray paint (from years of making pinewood derby cars) to use.

The verdict?  50/50 success rate.

According to my awesome wife, this big sign (coupled with about a dozen signs strategically placed all around high traffic areas in the HOA community) DID generate some serious traffic to our garage sale.  Our neighbor said it is the busiest she has ever seen anyone's house be for a garage sale.  You don't know her, but that's saying a lot!
But ... people still asked "How much?" almost every time they were considering a purchase.  I had even made a separate sign indicating the 5 things that were NOT for just $1 (couch, ping pong and foosball tables, etc.)

Overall ... we sold significantly more stuff than at any previous garage sale, which was my main goal because I do NOT like having to store stuff we no longer want.

Song Of The Day:
It's time to go back to the 80's and enjoy some Terence Trent D'arby with "Sign Your Name"  It sure seemed like he would have a long career in music but, unfortunately, this remains his one big hit.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Can Angry Birds Make You Less Angry ?

I am a very impatient person much of the time.  Don't believe me?  Ask my wife or my kids.

I hate waiting.

I hate having 'nothing' to do.  Even when I'm supposed to be relaxing, I want to be involved in doing something.

A scene from Angry Birds Rio,
which has LOTS of added levels
and bonus challenges to complete
The other day, while sitting at a typically long stoplight, I pulled out my phone and played a round or two of Angry Birds on my iPhone.  No wifi needed.  No data used.  Just flinging birds against bricks, crates, and piggies.  A few minutes later the light changed and it was time to drive off.  I was actually more bothered at having to put the game away than I was troubled at how long I was stuck waiting at this stop light.

And since I almost always have my phone with me, I realized that I don't have to let short waiting periods bother me any more.  Not only can I play a mindless game to pass the time, but I can read scriptures, make notes and to do lists for the future, or look through photos in my gallery.

It's like a life-changing situation brought about by technology ... and I'm very grateful for it!

Song Of The Day:
Even better than regular a capella music, is a capella music that finds popularity on mainstream radio.  "The Longest Time" by Billy Joel was one of my first introductions into a capella music and it's success as a single led to much radio play when I was an easy-to-influence youth.  That song is another example of technology having a profound affect on my life forever after.  Without the radio and pop music, I doubt if I'd ever have found such love for a capella music.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Which One Are You Going To Be Today ?

Any parent knows that their kids are going to bring them great joy ... and also LOTS of stressful situations.  There is a constant question in my mind, which I believe ALL parents ask themselves about each of their children from time to time: Which one of your personalities am I going to be seeing today?

Seven different kids, each with many different moods, leads to an infinite number of combinations of chaos in the Case Place.  On any given day, there will undoubtedly be a tired kid, an angry kid, a sad kid, an excited kid, a hungry kid, and several happy or content kids.  This doesn't even account for the variations of mommy or daddy moods.

So the other day when I saw the following set-up in the supermarket, I realized that it didn't just apply to my daughter Catalina, but was representative of ALL my kiddos ... although I think 'fat free' is a bit of a stretch for anyone!  :)

Song Of The Day:
Despite the stresses and shifting emotions each day, I'm so happy to have all of my kids and my awesome wife in my life.  Kelly Clarkson's song "My Life Would Suck Without You" is very accurate.  How boring would it be without a little dressing on our salad of life?  Love my kids!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Are You In Time-Out ?

Our parking lot at work has been under a massive reconstruction process over the last month or so.  I've taken a few pictures here and there, just because I find it fascinating to watch the progress broken down into smaller steps.  It is also kind of cool to see the finished product while appreciating the work that went into it.

Old blacktop scraped away and patched
New blacktop laid and leveled and painted

Today, I saw this as I walked to my car ...

And my weird mind immediately turned this gigantic piece of earth-moving equipment into a living thing.  And I felt bad (not really) because it looks like he is in a 'time out' for misbehavior.  He even has his chin tucked in and 'head' bowed in shame as he thinks about what he has done.

In truth, the workers had just removed a large roundabout, including several traffic-directing concrete barriers around the area.  The day was over and there was no need to move this beast because it would be needed the next day to level the ground there.

But doesn't it look like his angry mechanical parents left him in time out ?!

Song Of The Day:
If this digger was actually a living thing, I am sure he would be thinking or singing "You Don't Know Me" by Ray Charles.  It's a hard life digging all day and then being left behind as everyone goes to their homes and families.  And here I have to sit surrounded by dirt questioning my decision to get into this business in the first place.  Sigh.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Will It Fit ?

Several months ago my wife and I bought our BIG van (12-passenger) with the intent to transport our family of 9 on vacations, etc.  When we bought the van, our thoughts were NOT on where we would store the van when not in use.  That sort of reality doesn't sit in until after you use it for your trip and then realize ... we only have a two-CAR garage.

So amidst our de-cluttering efforts and pre-garage-sale organization, I took the liberty of clearing everything from my side of the garage so that I could 'test' the fit of our BIG van.

It was close ... but it looks like we can make it work.  I marked the "space" with sidewalk chalk because I will have to rearrange several things in the garage before we can park this BEAST in the garage regularly.  But that leads to the next BIG question ...

Who gets the OTHER parking space?  :)

Song Of The Day:
Pretty much everyone has heard "Drive" by The Cars, so it's an easy pick for the song today.  But I recently bought the groups' Greatest Hits CD and I had forgotten how many great songs they had.  You can check out the playlist at this link.  I think you'll be as surprised as I was at how many hits they had back in the day.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Why Did I Take THAT Picture ?

Cell phones are pretty amazing.  Not only can you call and talk to a person literally anywhere else in the world, but you can do LOTS of other things in between those important phone calls.  Like ... taking pictures.

I didn't take very many pictures with my first two cell phones, mostly because the picture quality was not very good.  Enter smart phones and my iPhone ... and now I take pictures almost every day.  Even more once I realized how you can go straight to the camera from the lock screen.

Some pictures are specifically for future Blog Posts.  Some pictures are to remember a special moment.  Some pictures are because it is easier than writing a bunch of information down.

But some pictures ... well, some pictures I have no real idea why I have them in my phone.  I truly need to just delete them, but I feel this nagging sense that I will need them again at some future point ... which will only come to my mind the very moment AFTER I remove them from my phone memory.

Here are a few of those pictures and my attempt at explaining why I think I took the photo:

I think I thought the clouds
looked cool ... maybe?
This is from a while ago
because Myra hasn't had
bottles in over a year.

First time filling up the
new van was expensive!
I think this is where we hid
Easter Eggs for the kids in Alabama

It's potato soup ... but why
did I need a picture of it ?
Not a bird.  Spencer.
Not cool man, not cool!

I'm sure I planned a
blog post for this ...
Song Of The Day:
As you've seen, my motivation to take a picture often comes from a variety of sources and situations.  The Chicago song "You're The Inspiration" is my nod to those circumstances which inspire me to snap a picture.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Who Are "They" ?

Have you ever been talking with someone and they say something like "They say you're supposed to avoid ... whatever" or "They say that's good for you." ?

Who are "they" ?!

Have you ever been reading an article online and see the phrase "according to a source" or "sources near the situation have confirmed" ?

Who are "sources" ?!

And perhaps the most important question ... how do I get THAT job?!
I'm good at telling people things.  I am fine being 'quoted' as a source.  I am just one person, but a group of myself and my peers would gladly be "they" if you needed me to be.

Song Of The Day:
I suppose if you were always a 'source' you'd probably get tired of always being the person who knows things.  In that vein, "Wish I Didn't Know Now" by Toby Keith is the song for this post.  It's a lost love song that I think 'they' would like.  Sources should have told Toby about his ex-girlfriend a while ago I guess.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Why Are Things That Crawl "Creepier" Than Things That Fly ?

Picture yourself sitting comfortably in a chair outside on a porch.  You've got a good book and a cool beverage.  Life is good.  And then something happens ... Out of the corner of your eye you see an ant crawling toward and into your shoe.  What do you do?

Now imagine you're laying in bed, almost asleep.  The moonlight is shining through the window providing a peaceful glow in your room.  And then you see it ... The thin line of cobweb is unmistakeable and the shadowy figure of a spider comes into focus just inches from your face.  How do you react?

One more example, you're moving things around in your yard, just getting some weeds cleared and trimming trees and bushes.  You're feeling good because your yard is looking better when all of a sudden you hear a rustling in the debris.
In a flash something alive appears and scurries across the yard along the fence line.  It is a field mouse and he is hauling home as fast as he can.  What are you thinking now?

If you're like me, in each of these scenarios you have a very strong and quick reaction.  Yuck!  Gross!  Get it away from me!  Aw man!  You might throw something at the unwanted guest(s).  You might strike to kill them.  You almost certainly don't just ignore their presence or wave it off with no fear or angst.

But change the creature in each scenario and your reaction is probably much less instant and angry.  What if it was a mosquito flying near your shoe?  What if it was a housefly aimlessly airborne near you as you lay in bed?  What if a small bird flew out of the pile of debris instead?  Is your reaction the same?
Mine certainly wouldn't be.

For some reason things that fly do not make me as nervous as things that crawl.  And I have no idea why!  It is illogical.  Things that can fly could "get me" from anywhere, while things that crawl would have to work very hard to "get me."  This reasoning would suggest that flying things would be scarier, but they just aren't.  They might be annoying pests, but they don't make me jump in fear.

Am I the only one?!

Song Of The Day:
It's been too long since I featured an OMD song, so today's selection is
"The Place You Fear The Most" which has an eerie ghost sound as part of it's main hook.  I definitely fear mice, spiders, and even a group of ants (if they are in my house or on my body) more than flying things.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Just Another Day At The Office ?

I work as a Supervisor in a call center for an insurance company.  In many ways, it just can't get much less exciting than that.
Except ... we're not a typical insurance company, nor are we a typical call center ... and I am certainly not a typical Supervisor!  :)

Sorry I didn't get pictures of
the Big Wheel of Money
Today we had two Rep Rallies at an off-site location.  Employees were bussed about 15-20 minutes away to a convention center, which was set up with loud music and all kinds of "rally" signage.  Some business results were shared, but mostly the events were filled with exciting videos and of course the giving away of money to lucky participants in attendance.
Everyone that attended got some free stuff, like the lunch bag in the picture to the left.

I had the opportunity to get people pumped up on the bus ride over, with a good buddy of mine who also happens to be a Supervisor.  We did crazy chants, tested knowledge with trivia questions, and other silly stuff.

While this kind of event only happens a few times each year, it is one of the reasons I love my job and the company I work for.  It goes without saying that happy employees lead to happy customers, and I am so glad my employer gets that!  Thanks Progressive for getting it right almost all the time!

Song Of The Day:
I've recently passed the 15-year milestone of being with my company, but
"My Next Thirty Years" will likely be here as well, because it's a great place to work.  I know this isn't what Tim McGraw was thinking of when he wrote the song, but it certainly applies.  If you've got to put in 30 to 50 years in the workforce before retirement, you might as well work somewhere enjoyable!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

But, But, But ... Wait, What ?!

My niece and her boyfriend Michael
My niece graduated from high school today, which made me feel super old!  Congrats Brittany for being in the Top 5% of your class!

The main reason I felt so old is this ... during the graduation ceremony, I was trying to keep my youngest daughter Myra (almost 3) quiet and sitting still.  Brittany was younger than this when I first met her!  And it feels like just yesterday that I was tickling and teasing my cute little niece, listening to her funny mispronunciations of words and watching her act absolutely crazy, just to make us 'big people' laugh.

Now I've got a daughter who is doing those same things!  (This doesn't even account for the other three older daughters I have who have already gone through that stage).

So here's a cute little experience I had on the drive home from the graduation with my 'little Brittany' a.k.a. Myra:
Myra grumbles disapproval of something from the back seat ... "Ahh!  UHHH!"
     I ask "What's wrong?"
Myra says "Dere an ant in heeya."
     I explain "No there's not.  You'll be fine.  Stay strapped in please."  Thinking 'there's no way ONE ant is in my car!  Silly little girl.'
A little time passes, when I hear Myra complain "Dere it is again.  I don't yike dat ant daddy.  Why you have dat ant in heeya."
     I make up a little story and say that he is my pet ant and he's really nice, all the while thinking 'There's no ant you silly girl!  What an imagination!"
     Ten minutes later I hear Myra begin to shriek.  I look back in time to see her legs and feet shoot way up in the air and a look of terror shoot across her face.
     I pull the car over and turn around to help her ... and sure enough there is a HUGE ant crawling very quickly across the seat toward her.
     So I told her to calm down and then I squished the ant with my thumb.  She still won't put her feet down until I have wiped his ant carcass completely off the seat.  She seems satisfied and calm, so I turn around and begin driving again.
"Daddy.  Why you 'quish dat ant?  Dat was my favit ant and now he gone.  You 'quish him an' now I gon' haftoo fin' anudda ant.  You made me sad daddy.  I yoved dat ant an' now he dead 'cause you 'quish him.  Dat was NOT nice daddy!  Him was a good ant.  A nice ant."

Aaargh!  You make no sense ... but I sure love you!  :)

Song Of The Day:
I know I just barely used a Dave Matthews Band song, but
"Ants Marching" is just too perfect for this blog post
since it was Myra's 'favit ant dat got 'quished.'  :)


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wouldn't It Be Great If We Could Actually Say These Things ?

Although many people may not know their name, I am certain almost everyone is familiar with the "Happy Bunny" quotes that are on everything from pins to bumper stickers to t-shirts and hats.  The concept is that this picture of a happy-looking little cartoon bunny is paired with a rude, sarcastic, vulgar, or perhaps just plain mean quote.

Today at work, one of my peers showed me a box of pins she had, each with a happy bunny quote imprinted on them.  She offered for me to keep any that I really liked, so I chose 3 or 4 that really made me laugh.  Here are two of those, which are my inspiration for this post:

I got to thinking ... I appreciate honesty in people around me; like, if I have something in my teeth please just tell me.  And then I thought ... how nice would it be if we could actually say some of these happy bunny sayings to people we interact with?  Of course we can do that, but I mean without all the anticipated negative consequences?  You just say it and they accept it.  No questions or unnecessary emotions.  It's just truth that automatically resonates with them ... and then you can have an actual conversation with them that leads somewhere.

I especially wish this was the case with the "it worries me how dumb you are" quote.  Sadly, I can count at least five times in the last two weeks when I wished I could point this out to people I have had conversations with.  I really don't think they are aware how "dumb" (illogical or nonsensical would be a more politically correct term) they are being.  And maybe if they were able to see that, they could move on and have a better life.

Song Of The Day:
The real difference between children and adults is that kids truly just say what they are thinking, without reservations.  We seem to be okay with this as adults, openly accepting the truth that has just been spoken to us from these little ones.  I wish we could do that as adults.
Instead we have to ask ourselves "What Would You Say?" and consider the repercussions of those words.  Too bad.  This song from Dave Matthews Band was what got me into their music in the first place.


Monday, May 20, 2013

So You're Bald ... Again ?!

I am one of those husbands who checks in with his wife before doing certain things, even though she almost always tells me she has no preference.  One of these "things" is the hairstyle I am going to wear for the next little while.  I've blogged before about being unable to find a look that sticks for very long ... but I cannot recall writing about my preference to be bald or clean-shaven on top.

I love the low-maintenance of a 'no hair' hairstyle!

I do not hate having hair and I am not an unclean person.  But there are just certain situations where not having to worry about your hair is a BIG advantage.

A few off the top of my head (pun intended):
 - Camping.  Sure you can wear hats while you camp, but I'm not really a big 'hat' guy.  I wear them, but mostly just when I need to cover my head from a possible sunburn.  But with 'no hair' you can just lather on sunscreen every few hours and avoid that weird hat line across your forehead.
 - While Doing Yardwork.  I have LOTS of landscaping stuff going on at my house now, and the absence of hair (and/or a hat) is so nice.  If it gets really hot, you can just spray your whole head with the hose ... voila!  Clean!  And protecting from a sunburn is also much easier.

Scary grin I must say!
 - For Early Morning Events.  Truth is, no matter how clean your hair is, 'bed head' is very hard to mask (at least with my hair anyway).  But shave it all off and ... ahhhhhh ... a little water in your palm, quick rub of the scalp, dry off and GO!
 - Driving In The Car With The Windows Down.  I have no a/c in my car, so it's 'windows down' during the summer.  Your hair can't get that weird windblown look if it's GONE!  So very nice!

So thanks to my wife for supporting my clean-shaven head look.  I patiently waited for our family pictures before cleansing the palette.  What do you think of the look?

Song Of The Day:
Many love songs are about lost love or broken relationships where someone misses someone else.  "Lost" by Little Big Town is one of these types of songs.  But I am using it today even though I am not lost without my hair ... instead, I feel the opposite ... I've been lost without my hair-free scalp.
It's good to see you again my bald friend!  :)


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Is There A Murphy's Law At The Movies ?

Yesterday morning, nice and early, I went to a local Wal-Mart to wait in line to purchase tickets to a special advance screening of the new Superman movie coming out this summer.  I arrived a little later than I planned, about 6:15am, but there were only two people ahead of me in line ... and they were my recently married friends Greg and Erin.

It was almost 7:30am before the next individual, who was not part of our super-eager group, arrived.  In that sense, we wasted about an hour of time by being there that early.  Sadly, this has become more of a regular occurrence as related to waiting in line for movies, or tickets for movies.

On the contrary, whenever I have decided not to start waiting so early for movie-related things, I end up being much further back in the line than I thought I would.

I just can't seem to get it right!

So I'm wondering if this is the same kind of Murphy's Law that applies to a variety of other scenarios.  A few examples would include the lane of traffic I select on a busy highway or the check-out line I decide to wait in at the grocery store.
I think I'm one of those people who always seems to pick the wrong line, lane, or time.

Song Of The Day:
The video to this song by Alien Ant Farm is just a great one to watch if you can spare the time, with lots of nods to the history of cinema.  The song "Movies" came to mind this morning as I waited in a line that shouldn't have been started nearly as early as it formed.  It was still fun hanging out with some friends I don't see as often as I'd like, which made it worthwhile no matter how tired I was.  :)


Saturday, May 18, 2013

What Are You Waiting For ?!

Everyone has their own pet peeves when it comes to driving.  I know I've blogged before about some of mine (most recently regarding tailgaters), but it's been a while since I've mentioned my two biggest irritating situations.

#1 on that list is people who DO NOT know how to use the right turn merging lane.  Just turn right and then speed up so you can simply merge with flowing traffic.  This is less difficult than parallel parking ... or almost any other driving technique or skill.

#2 on that list is people who CANNOT commit to turning left at ANY intersection.  If there are no cars coming ... GO!  If the stoplight changes yellow and you're in the intersection ... GO!  If we both have time to turn left before that car gets to the inersection ... GO!  GO!  For heaven's sake ... GO!

I apologize for anyone who has to have me sitting behind them at an intersection.  Whether you are turning right into a merging lane or going left against oncoming traffic ... I am just not very patient when you are not actually moving closer to your destination.  I also apologize for going around YOU if you take too long.
I just can't think of any other way to help you see that there is nothing to wait for or be afraid of.  Follow me if you're not going to lead!

Song Of The Day:
Although the song is about love, the title is perfect for this post ... "Just Go" by Lionel Richie is exactly what I want to (and often do) yell or shout at the person behind the wheel of the car in front of me in these scenarios.  Please.  Just.  GO!


Friday, May 17, 2013

Did He Really Say That ?!

I have been thinking on this particular blog post for a few days now, since shortly after the whole hoopla around Abercrombie and Fitch's CEO Mike Jeffries began.  And I have a problem.  I have a concern.  I am bothered.  I am upset.  I am disappointed.  And I feel the need to share those concerns in my blog post.

But I am not angry with this CEO, nor am I offended by his comments.

Instead, I am frustrated with how our society lives by 'sound bites.'

If you care about my opinion, please read on and see things from a different perspective.  If not, that is your choice and I do not judge you for it.  Life is busy.  We all have to prioritize where we spend our time.  Honestly, my opinion shouldn't be very high on anyone's list.  Not even mine.  But I write my blog because it is a good release for me to share my thoughts.  I never expect anyone in particular to read them or even get much out of them.  But if you do, I thank you for your time.


The original article (linked HERE if you actually care to read it) was written back in 2006.  I doubt you can remember the 'world' at that time, let alone the state of the economy.  Spend a few minutes thinking about what you were doing around that time and then I encourage you to read the WHOLE article.  Be forewarned though, that you might have a change of opinion ... that is, if you can be open-minded enough after the deluge of media lambasting the CEO and company.

For those that won't take time to read the whole article, I've made it a little easier by sharing the portion where I presume the major brouhaha came from:
As far as Jeffries is concerned, America’s unattractive, overweight or otherwise undesirable teens can shop elsewhere. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

What is interesting to me is how these comments have been taken out of context of the whole article.  The primary discussion of the article was to learn more about how this company became successful amidst many other companies losing market share and/or changing their business models to meet the changing demands of consumers.  I am certain there are many things we each say in our everyday lives that could be twisted in all sorts of ways.  I just wish the average person was willing to dig a little deeper and understand more fully where someone is coming from when they speak.

I find it not at all amusing, but sad, that the people who expect to be "understood" are so quick to judge another person without understanding where THEY are coming from.  Do you not see your own hypocrisy with this attitude?  This is, in fact, the biggest challenge to creating a more diverse and inclusive world.  We are slowly being led down a path where anything and anyone is acceptable as they are rather than maintaining certain standards.  It's a little too close to the scary world depicted in the movie Wall-E for my tastes.

So boycott (or girlcott?) the company and CEO.  As a consumer, that is completely your right.  But be careful when you justify your decision based on 'sound bites' that are directly intended to elicit an emotional response.
You may think you are deciding for yourself, but if your decision is based on ANY information you heard, then you ARE being influenced by others.
Choose wisely my friends.

Song Of The Day:
I am using the great Michael Jackson classic "Human Nature" today for two reasons.  First, it is human nature to judge others.  Judging isn't always bad, but it often comes with many unintended consequences.  Second, in the song there is a repeated refrain of "Why?  Why?" and this is my favorite kind of question.  If we asked "Why?" more often, we'd all be better able to understand one another and be understood.  And that's my interpretation of the Golden Rule.

If you've read this far, please feel free to comment below or on my Facebook post.  I welcome your opinions and will read every one in their entirety.  I would apologize if my comments offend you, but then, if you truly know me you would already know that is not their intent.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

When Are You Too Old To Have A Snack Lunch ?

Today, like many days, I did not plan adequately for lunch.  I just did not leave enough time for myself between work and errands to eat a proper meal.  Considering I only have to have "three squares a day" this should not happen as often as it does.

This is NOT a smart lunch
This marks at least the 4th time in less than two weeks when I ate what could barely be considered an acceptable "meal" for lunch.  Here are the recent examples:
 - three large handfuls of Mountain Man trail mix (3 kinds of nuts, raisins, M and Ms) and about 16 ounces of water
 - two chocolate covered granola bars, one 50-calorie fruit cup, and a snack size bag of cheetos, with a can of lemon-lime soda
 - about 50 pieces of pepperoni sandwiched between about 30 wheat thins crackers and doused with a 12-ounce grape soda
 - one donut (apple fritter) and some ritz crackers ... and another donut (maple glazed) with about a pint of chocolate milk

As I finished my "lunch" today it occurred to me that I have eaten these kinds of lunches before ... in high school and my early college years.  I think at those times it was probably more acceptable and didn't likely do much damage.  But now ... well I'm really just getting too old for this to happen.  Even occasionally, this kind of unhealthy eating should be phased out if I intend to live past retirement.

Song Of the Day:
I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that my bad lunchtime habits could be considered my "Dark Side" although I am certain that's not what Kelly Clarkson intended to sing about here.  It's a great song though so enjoy.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Is That Why I Have Short Fingers ?

Disclaimer: I know that there is no actual connection between my fingernail chewing/biting and the size of my hands or length of my fingers ... so please don't try to explain to me how it is not medically possible.  I'm just drawing logical but ill-founded conclusions from unrelated pieces of information.

I have been a fingernail biter / chewer for as long as I can remember (well over 30 years now).  I know it serves no purpose and makes me look nervous, immature, etc.  I have tried to stop more times than I can count.  I've made it months before, but I always end up nibbling them down to the soft tissue eventually.  Even when I clip them regularly, I still find myself chewing them.

I have done a good job to not chew them in front of my children, because I don't want them to pick up this stupid habit.  And thus far that has been a success.  Which got me to thinking ...
 - My hands are fairly smallish compared with someone my height, and my fingers are definitely shorter than they naturally should be.
 - My oldest son, 13 at the time of this post, is already on par to exceed me in height ... and his hands are already as big as mine ... AND ... his fingers seem to me to be freakishly long (they are probably normal sized).

My hand on the right
Josh Jr's (13) hand on the left
I am now convinced that his ability to avoid chewing/biting his nails has allowed his hands to grow at a normal rate, while mine were made shorter because I chewed them off before they could grow fully.

It is the only rational explanation.

I wonder what it would have been like to have full-sized hands.  :)

Song Of The Day:
Any post about hands would have allowed me to use the great song
"Hands To Heaven" by Breathe, but this was the first post I could think of about hands.  Perhas one day, after this life is over, I will no longer be trapped in a fingernail chewing habit AND I might even get a regular-sized pair of hands to use.  That seems fair.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Are You Working Hard Or Hardly Working ?

I have heard it said many times over "Find something you love to do and somebody to pay you to do IT and you'll never work a day in your life."

I suppose that could be true and I'll be sure to let you know if I ever prove that theory ... but I can safely say that 'working hard' is a phrase I try to use sparingly and only in the right circumstances.

Here's an example:
 - Yesterday (Monday, my day off) I spent about 8 hours 'working hard' outside on my never-ending landscape remodeling project.  I moved (lifted, loaded, pushed, unloaded, and placed) at least a literal ton of rocks.  I dug out a trench for one downspout.  I cleared about 10 wheelbarrows of rock/dirt/weed-filled stuff from the front and side yards.  I laid and positioned and eventually trimmed the excess landscaping fabric in our small front easement.
I.  Worked.  HARD.

 - Today (Tuesday, a.k.a. my 'Monday' at work) I spent 9+ hours hardly working.  Oh sure I attended two meetings, facilitated three coaching sessions, met with my boss, met with my new 'loan-in' Supervisor (who I am mentoring), cleared at least 50 emails, rescheduled two other meetings, and checked in with most of my team members.  But that wasn't "hard" and it wasn't necessarily "work."  I was doing something all day long, but by comparison to yesterday I was hardly working.

So I'll have to think for a little while the next time before responding to some acquaintance who asks me this cheesy blog post title question.  I'm not sure which answer is more preferred anymore.

Song Of The Day:
I can think of no more fitting song than "Bang On The Drum All Day" which I guarantee you have heard before.  But did you know who did this song?  Well I didn't.  His name is Todd Rundgren.  Now you know.  You're welcome (special shout out to YouTube for the info).  :)


Monday, May 13, 2013

Should I Just Sell 'Em ?

While driving south on Powers Blvd the other day,
I came across the following billboard sign:

Two thoughts crossed my mind:

First, I've got 7 "little" Cases ... and I often wonder what they might be worth?  Looks like now I might be able to find out ... and legally at that!
Second, at the very least I should get myself reviewed
(as offered in the lower part of the sign).

Sometimes it's fun to have a unique (or not-so-unique if you think about it) last name.  I get to chuckle quite often in my day-to-day life about my last name.
I'm proud to be a Case!

Arguably our most famous product is equipment designed to move heaven and earth.

We've got our own place of higher learning, although I've never heard of our Eastern campus and I have never understood why we don't have "active" status ... always just "reserves."

And ALL mothers bring one of my could-be-a-family-members along with them when they go anywhere ... just-in-case!

It's good to be part of this crazy family!  :)

Song Of The Day:
I'm not sure if it will be released as a radio tune, but "In Case" by Demi Lovato is a nice song that just has my family name repeated over and over and over again.  She has a unique voice and I like her song "Skyscraper" so this is a nice way to tie it to the blog post and share that song too.  :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

How Was Your Mother's Day ?

I think it is terribly wrong that Mother's Day always comes before Father's Day.  Of course there is nothing that can be done to change it, but every year it bothers me a little more.

Husbands are left to 'set the bar' for pampering of wives and mothers on their one holiday of the year.  Obviously they deserve much more than we husbands could ever do for them in one day, one week, or even one month.  But we try in vain every year.  We coordinate breakfast in bed and delivery of gifts and handmade cards, or phone calls once the kids are away from the nest.  We try to make the day stress-free and keep 'mom' from having to do any cooking or cleaning or other, 'everyday' activities.

No matter what we do, mothers have the advantage.  If we failed miserably on their day, they have the right to fail equally as much the following month when dad's day rolls around.  They never do though.  Instead they go overboard to make sure we feel even more guilty for having planned and implemented our efforts so poorly.  If we deliver a virtually perfect day, mothers have the chance to perform the perfect 'do-over' where they eliminate the one thing that kept the day from being spotless.

It's just not fair!  :(

That said, I am one of the lucky ones because I married an awesome wife and mother.  Karen is both forgiving and supportive when it comes to Mother's Day.  She accepts whatever offering I make in praise to her awesomeness.  She doesn't rub it in (too much) when she makes Father's Day an actual perfect day (every dang year!)  She reminds me of what I should be doing to help her day be better during the day itself.

I love you Karen!  I am so grateful to you for your constant mothering of our whole family (myself included).  You never get a break.  You never get a day off (unless you're seriously sick, and even then you still never take more than a few hours for yourself).  You are always tired.  You are always working.  You are deserving of multiple mother's days each month.  Thank you for everything!

Song Of The Day:
My 'Pretty Lady' isn't known as "Karen" to very many people.  In fact, most of the day, every day, she is just mom, or mommy, or mama.  In the spirit of that reality, "Hey Mama" by Mat Kearney is the song for this Mother's Day.  Thanks for being the hot mama of our 7 wonderful children.  I love you so much!


Saturday, May 11, 2013

What Has Your Mom Taught You ?

It's time y'all got to meet the greatest mother of all time:  Julie Case

I certainly hope that many children (of any age) feel that their mother is the best in the world ... but I know four people who actually get to claim that as the truth!

Mom, I love you.  More than you realize, your actions have shaped me into the person I am today.  Your example has set the stage for so many different experiences I have been faced with in this life, giving me thoughts and ideas on what to do (or what not to do) as these new challenges arise.

Herewith are a small collection of the countless things you have taught me through the years (I hope some make you chuckle):
 - Let it go.  Sometimes it just doesn't matter.  Sometimes life is bigger than that moment or situation.  Sometimes good things happen to bad people and you have to let them enjoy their unearned glory.  But clinging to that disappointment or hatred and/or continuing an argument that is fruitless only hurts yourself.
 - You can be thrifty, but don't be cheap.  It is a noble ideal to save money or spend money wisely, but sometimes it's better to be a little frivilous.  Vacations with the family are an excellent example.  Gifts for other people are another.  If you save the money from worthless pleasures (eating out all the time) you can blow the savings on lasting treasures (special experiences with family and friends).
 - Argue in private, quietly.  Praise in public, loudly.  This is especially true in your relationship with your eternal companion.  You can be someone's biggest critic and greatest support, but the world should only see the supportive side.  This, above all else, will strengthen your relationships and keep everyone whole.
 - If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing right.  Otherwise, you'll do it over and over and over again until you do do it right.  Laundry piles up, and so do household chores.  You can do all the chores and laundry in one day or spread them out through the week.  And either way is fine.  But do it right!
 - There's chili in the fridge.  No matter where you're coming from or where you're going, no matter the time of day or the season of the year ... there should always be 'chili' in the fridge.  Be a good host or hostess and offer things to your guests even if they turn you down time and again.
 - Music changes the world.  Singing is always free.  Playing an instrument well provides joy to you and others.  Sharing talents (even if limited) makes everyone feel better about themselves.  Listening to music can transport you to anywhere or into any mood you want to be in.  Appreciate different styles, even if people think you're weird.  And sing along in the car at the top of your lungs!
 - Just pick up the phone and call.  Communication may change with technological advances, but an actual live conversation (face to face if you can do it) is the best way to connect, support, show love, empathize, understand, or just get things done.  It means a lot when you take the time to call.
 - Laughing is good.  Being able to laugh at yourself is even better.  Oh look, Josh is home.  Orphan orphan or often as in frequently?  Green food coloring in every piece of our St Patrick's Day dinner.  Life is funny and those who smile more often are finding humor all around them ... and in their own actions.
 - Stand up for yourself, or if you cannot, always have a group of friends who will stand up with you.  Sometimes it is difficult to be the only one ... so surround yourself with the right kinds of people and you'll never have to stand alone for what is right.

Obviously this list could go on for years.  Mom, you've taught me so many wonderful things and despite your own unwillingness to accept it, YOU raised some great kids.  Thank you eternally for loving me enough to let me live through those crazy ADD years.  Thank you for packing my lunches, for baking so many cakes, for throwing special birthday parties, for writing my name in every piece of missionary clothing I had, for yelling at me when I needed it, for consoling me when I needed that, for being quick to forgive me when I thought I knew better, for being quick to thank me when it turns out I actually did have something to teach you.  Thanks for being a great grandma to my 7 kiddos.  Thanks for trying to be the best mother-in-law to my wife.  I love you!

Song(s) Of The Day:
The tune is very catchy.  The singers are super talented.  The message in the words ring true more and more each day.  "A Song For Mama" by Boyz II Men is as close to a tribute to my mother as I can think of ... although I am still prepared to sing "Consider The Lilies" in the long distant future funeral because I know this is what she wants.  Love you mom!


Friday, May 10, 2013

Remember Pen Pals ?

I remember having a 'Pen Pal' back in the 3rd or 4th grade.  I do not remember much about the experience, but a few things stand out.
 - It was cool to get a letter from your pen pal
 - It was enjoyable to learn how you were similar to your pen pal
 - It was interesting to learn about someone else's life
 - Most of the time, it was fun to write these letters ... even if you hated writing

I am sure Jeremy will never
forgive me for using this picture
from our Disneyland trip in 2008.
Without any intention to do so, I have become "Pen Pals" with a good friend of mine, whom I have not seen but once in the last 10 years or so.
I got to know him through church because our wives were friends and we sorta started hanging out as small families (we each had just 1-2 kids at that time).  His job took him to AZ and then recently to TX, but we have kept in contact through email all this time.

We sometimes go several months without having time to write one another back.  We haven't "hung out" in a long time.  Our families have grown quite a bit (7 and 4 kids, respectively) and perhaps our stomachs too.  :(  But we are still connected and each email is just like a compilation of conversations we would have had if we still saw each other more often.

Through it all, the same things I remember about my grade school pen pal experience are still true now.  It's great to hear from him, no matter how long it's been.  We still share so many similarities and it is fun to hear how things are going for him and his family.  And I always love writing him back, especially because he doesn't care about punctuation or rambling sentences and thoughts or even when I randomly jump from one subject to the next.  Thanks for being my pen pal Jeremy!

Song Of The Day:
One of my recent favorite songs is "Heaven's Highest Hill" by Blue Jupiter.  The song is actually about a husband/father who is grieving the loss of his wife.  But the bigger message of 'love don't stop' is why I'm using it in this post.  I look forward (in no hurry though) to the day when I'll be surrounded by loved ones in heaven, enjoying each other's company and what I'm sure will be some amazing views!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Is That In The Job Description ?

A friend of my niece, Brittany, was involved in a car accident this morning (on the way to driving my niece and herself to a final AP exam for their high school english class).  The friend is okay.  The other driver was at fault.  The car(s) involved will need some repairs, but all in all things will be just fine.

I had gone to pick up my niece and take her to the AP exam, but she was able to reschedule a make-up test.  So instead I just sat there and waited to give her and her friend a ride to our place to wait until they could return to their homes.

Anyway ... as all the paperwork was being filled out, my niece and I sat there wondering who was responsible for cleaning up the debris in the road?  Broken headlights and plastic bumper pieces were scattered through the intersection where the accident occurred.  And it occurred to us that we had no idea how that debris always seemed to be taken care of.

And then we saw this ...

I guess that answers that question.  Who knew that the Police Officer on scene would have a broom in his car?  Who knew that he would be specially trained to clear the street of remnant car parts?  And then I started wondering, is that in the job description for them?

"To serve and protect ... and clean up city streets after accidents."

Regardless, I think this Officer did a fine job, even if it might be one of his least favorite responsibilities.

Song Of The Day:
Whether you love the song or hated it because it got played so much on the radio, "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol is certainly memorable.  I also think it's applicable to this post, even if the police don't just chase cars all the time.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What Message Are We Sending ?

Once per month we have a "combined" activity with the youth of the church on our regular youth night.  One group of the youth is responsible to plan the activity for that evening and then everyone else just shows up prepared to enjoy whatever is planned.

This month, that responsibility fell upon our group (the 12 and 13 year old young men), so we have spent a few weeks over this past month planning for that night.  All told, it probably encompassed about 3-4 hours of planning and several individual assignments that each required another hour or two of work outside our normal meeting times.

All was going smoothly until this past Sunday, when we were nonchalantly informed that the young women would not be joining us for the activity.
Wait, what?!
When did this happen?  Just now.
And why are we just finding this out three days beforehand?  Sorry.
Can we just change the date for the "combined" activity?  No.

The questions didn't end there ... but the answers did.

This bothers me mostly because of the terrible message it is sending to our youth.  What message can we possibly expect them to learn from this experience?  The boys that invested time to plan now have to scramble to adjust plans, while scrapping all their hard work ... for nothing.  The youth that "missed" the combined activity get a message that it's not really important to be in attendance unless you're the ones who are in charge or invested time to plan the activity or event.

This is why the next generation is in trouble ... they have weak teachers.  :(

Song Of The Day:
I feel the song "Kings and Queens" by Audio Adrenaline is an appropriate tune for this day.  As current adults we need to respect our responsibility to teach the rising generation in the right way, even if it makes things tough or inconvenient for us.  Otherwise, we will reap the weak things we have sown and then we will become 'the least of these' but with no hope for improvement.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What Are The Odds ?

Some people are just board game playing kinds of people.  That very much describes my wife and I (and most of our truly good friends).  Of the millions of ways you can spend time as a couple or in small groups, playing a board game is one of the best.

A few months ago we came into possession of a Clue: Master Detective board game, which we found out later is out of print.  This makes it a rarity in and of itself, but what makes it more special is that my wife loves this game!  I did not know this, so when I picked it up from my parents (who were just clearing some things they haven't used in years) I had no idea that it would make my wife so happy to have.

So after sitting on our game shelf for a while, we finally pulled the game down to play it (when our friends - Aaron and Britney - stayed with us for a few nights).  We must have played about 10-12 rounds of the game over two evenings and here is the really weird thing ... in EVERY single game we played, the eventual "murderer" was either Aaron's character piece or mine.

For a little context, in Master Detective there are 10 different possible murder suspects.  So there was only a 40% chance in any ONE game that the murderer would be one of our 4 characters ... but it was Aaron or I every single time!

What is even weirder is that we played the game another 3-4 times with some other combinations of people (Jeremy, Jordan and Erin, just Aaron and Karen and I) ... and only ONCE was the murderer NOT one of our characters' playing pieces.  That makes about 14 of 15 times which is statistically almost impossible (50%, 40%, or 30% chance in just one game ... but over all these games it is just unexplainable).

Song Of The Day:
I'm as big a Phil Collins fan as Karen is a Clue Master Detective fan.  His song "Against All Odds" is a great tune and perfectly fits with this blog post subject.  Some of the lines in the song are eerily fitting "you're the only one who really knew me at all" and "there's nothing left here to remind me, just the memory of your face" are two quick examples.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Did You Check My IM Status ?

For those who may not be familiar with the terminology, when I say "IM" in this blog post title, I am referring to "Instant Messenger" technology.  At work this is provided through Microsoft Lync and is connected to our Outlook mail system.

Now with that background, allow me to explain my use of this title question countless times throughout the day.

About half of my team works from home pretty much 100% of their time.  These individuals are not seen in the office except for a few times each year, as needed for training or other on-site only events.  Out of consideration for these individuals, I have adopted the habit of providing updates on my status in the office through my IM or Lync system.

What started as a method to keep them informed, has turned into an effective system whereby I can keep anyone informed of my "availability" to meet with them.  For most people this has proven to be a very useful tool.  Colleagues, my boss, and others in general can just scroll over my name in Lync and see if my status is "Busy" or if I am "Away" or actually (rarely) "Available" at that moment.  I also include a short description of the situation, so people can gauge how long I might be "Busy" for.

That said ... there is a contingency of people who always seem surprised when I do not immediately reply to their IM chats or perhaps do not pick up the phone when they call.  And when we finally do chat, I always start with the blog post title question.

Now I do NOT expect people to check my status every moment of the day, but I DO think you should check it before you get bothered or frustrated with ME for not replying to you quickly enough.

Am I being unreasonable here?

Song Of the Day:
'Oh you never know what you'll find when you open up your "Letterbox" tomorrow.'  This is the opening line in this song by They Might Be Giants and it makes me think about how you have to actually use the letterbox and actually READ the letters you receive, or you'll never get the messages being sent to you.  Just like people need to check my status before just expecting me to be available at that moment.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Why DO You Dress Like That ?

I love the change of seasons, especially coming out of the Winter time and into Spring and Summer.  The trees start to flower.  The grass starts to grow again.  Different frangrances and aromas fill the air.  The temperature gets warmer.  The days get longer.  People are outside more often, if only to work in their yards.

And clothing styles (and amounts) change.

Winter brings with it more and more layers of clothing, to keep the body warm and safe.  Spring retains full body clothing coverage, because the temperatures still swing wildly and at a moment's notice.  But the closer summer gets, the less material that is worn and the more skin sees the sunlight.

EVERY year this causes the same question to cross my mind.  This may be sexist, but the post title question is directed specifically at women who choose to wear very revealing attire, often using the warm weather to justify their clothing selection.  Often, if the clothing is not immodest in terms of lack of material, it is revealing in terms of the tightness of it's fit and/or shape-hugging style.

Now as a man, I cannot honestly say that I have never taken notice of these women.  But my issue is that you're deliberately wearing that outfit to attract attention and focus it very specifically on certain assets that you possess.  It is a disappointment to see that, but is illogical and arguably ridiculous when these same women complain that men treat them as a sex object or look at them with wanton eyes.

What do you expect when you try to put everything out there for show?  Are you honestly going to try and tell me that you chose that outfit because it's "comfortable" to wear?!  You spent 20 minutes wriggling into those pants because they feel good ?!  You constantly pull and push and readjust your top, yet expect me to believe that you picked the right size and style?!

Let's be honest with ourselves here.  You like the way the clothes you wear make you look.  You like the way they make you feel.  AND most of all you like the fact that your attire catches and holds the eyes of men around you.

My final thought is this ... you may feel an initial boost in self-confidence as you wear these clothes.  You may even use these clothes as motivation to improve your overall physique and health.  But I promise you that you WILL lessen the value of yourself as a whole person if you place so much emphasis on wearing immodest clothing.  You will NOT be treated as anything more than a sex object if you do not avoid dressing like one.

Song Of the Day:
Many songs crossed my mind while writing this post, but I've landed on "Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol for one simple reason: in the song, the lyrics include the refrain "in the midnight hour, she cries 'More, more, more'" and that is my biggest issue with revealing clothing.  It starts small and simple but eventually the desire increases and you'll try to push the limits even further.  You'll always seek to gain more attention and eventually you'll run out of skin to show.  You may begin to cover up again and dress more modestly after that happens but your dignity will be damaged forever.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

What Are You Doing ?

Kids are great.


I often see my children doing things and wonder this blog post title question aloud.  The answers I get from my kids are almost always amusing, while also often being remarkably poignant.

Here is a picture I took of Myra, who was using a toy mirror to "yook at mah teef an' see if dey are why my mouf huwts."

I did not see that the toy she was holding was a mirror, so it was odd to me that she was making such silly faces while staring intently at a toy.
When I asked her what she was doing, her reply was as I typed it above (I've tried to match the phonetic spelling as best I can to capture the way she said it ... keeping in mind that she was still making the faces in the mirror as she explained to me what she was doing).

This was one of those "sometimes" when kids are great.  If only for the entertainment value they provide with their creative view of the world.

Song Of the Day:
I agree with the late Whitney Houston when she sang that "the children are the future" and that we need to "teach them well and let them lead the way."  Of course these are lines from her song "Greatest Love Of All" and I think the love of a parent to their child certainly is the greatest love of all.


Friday, May 3, 2013

What Do You Want To Learn About ?

These days our lives are so filled with things to do that we often feel like we just have no time at all for the pursuit of our own passions.  But I have found a way to keep myself from accepting that "well if I had time I would" excuse.

One of my passions is learning.  I love to learn.  I love that feeling that I still get when something confusing or unknown becomes clear or known.  There is gratification for me in gaining answers to my multitude of questions.  There is also satisfaction in not feeling like I am making things up when I am talking about a variety of subjects.

Several years ago I began keeping a running list of subjects I want to learn more about.  The list ranges all over ... from specific things (how does blowing out a sprinkler system work? and can I do it on my own with the right tools?) ... to general or very broad subjects (auto mechanics; how do engines work? why does my engine make that sound?)

I have recently begun copying this list over to my iPhone, so that I can have the subjects with me everywhere I go.  When I find myself waiting somewhere (an example would be between band performances yesterday evening), I can access the web and research / read about one of the subjects I have listed.  I will certainly become no expert through this process, but I have worked through several dozen questions and subjects in the last few years.

I also love being able to add things to the list and then not worry about them again until I have time to learn about them.  Even just putting the thought on the list makes me feel better because I know I will get to it eventually.

Song Of The Day:
When I think about learning I think about my earliest education: Kindergarten.  We learned numbers and letters and how to share, etc.  The 80's group ABC comes to mind and their tune "Be Near Me" is one of my favorites.  So the group's name is the only real tie in with the post.  But now you know ... See?  You learned something.  Wasn't that fun?!  :)