Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Where Does The Time Go ?

It's basically August now.
In 2013 ... which means it's almost 2014.
School starts tomorrow for 4 of my kids.
Next year I will have a child in high school!
Summer is over, for all intents and purposes.

Today at work my "empty agenda" quickly filled up with meetings and conversations and assorted busy work.  All of a sudden I looked up and it was 3:30pm.  The day was nearly over.

My landscaping project(s) at home are fast approaching their overall deadlines.

In so many different areas, I feel time just slipping away at a breakneck pace.  I am not sure why this is.  My time is being replaced with memories and experiences, but it just seems to move so fast.

Song Of The Day:
Nothing else like music takes me back to a time when minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months didn't disappear as swiftly.  One of my classic favorite time has gone so quickly songs is "Endless Summer Nights" by Richard Marx.  I am grateful for the memories I have collected in exchange for my minutes and hours, but I do sometimes find myself pining for long, lazy nights.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How Do You Attack An Oncoming Cold ?

There you sit, enjoying the day, when all of a sudden you get that tingling feeling.  It could be a scratchy throat that doesn't go away quick enough.  Maybe it's a sneeze that forces you to use two tissues afterward.  Or perhaps your head just starts to feel cloudy or congested.

NO !!!

Here comes a cold, but I will not allow this to happen!  I do not want to be sick!  I am unwilling to waste my precious time off from work!  I don't want to go through a box of tissues a day or not be able to taste my food!  This is NOT happening!  Time to take preventive action!

Isn't everyone just full of helpful
advice when you start to feel ill?!
I have friends who swear by their Neti pots and others who use Emergen C in these situations.  At one point in my life, I would aggressively ingest massive quantities of orange juice and double my normal hand-washing practices.
These all have their place, but lately I have one preferred method for combating an oncoming cold: increased physical activity.

Tonight I felt the first hint of a cold (coupled with allergies, which always complicates things), and so I ramped up my physical activity.  I coerced my oldest son into helping me sift the last of the rock pile in the front yard ... and then further coerced him into taking MANY wheelbarrows of dirt from the front to the back yard.  This was thoroughly exhausting (my son and I both agreed) ... but it wasn't enough!  So I went and played 90 minutes of basketball (3 on 3) and really got my sweat on.

There is just something about physical activity that always makes me feel like I can beat this cold down until it doesn't dare show up again.  #feelingincontrol  :)

Song Of The Day:
I haven't heard the song "Smile" by the artist Vitamin C in way too long.  So it certainly fits here, both for her name and the fact that winning a battle against a cold certainly makes me smile!


Monday, July 29, 2013

Why Are They No. 2 Pencils ?

In a home with 7 children (5 of whom return to school this week) there is a constant need for an industrial strength electric pencil sharpener.  We have already been through two other models, but our current sharpener has withstood about a year and a half of aggressive use.  I am thankful for this because today was "Back To School Pencil Sharpening Day" in the Case Place.

As I sat there, sharpening what had to be more than a hundred pencils, my mind began a chain of thought that eventually led me to do research on a subject I never really cared about.  I don't hate that, but I sometimes wish my need to know the answer to certain questions wasn't so strong.

If you care, you can read Wikipedia or use a search engine like Google to learn more than you ever wanted to know about pencils, lead, numbering, shading, hardness, darkness, and so on.  For my purposes, it only took me about 30 seconds to find the answer to the title question of this blog post.

But then I read on for nearly 30 minutes about all sorts of other information I became interested in as a result of links and commentary and questions in the initial sites I viewed online.  I will almost certainly never use this information again, but now I know and ...

Song Of The Day:
When life puts me in situations where I just have to find the answer to some silly question, I feel "Taken In" or perhaps sucked into learning is a more appropriate phrase.  But Mike & The Mechanics didn't have a popular song about getting sucked in so this will have to do!


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Do We Remember To Say Thank You ?

I know several of my recent posts have had a more negative or frustrated tone, which is probably why I found myself in a very reflective mood today.  Sundays are always great for reflecting on life.

Today my thoughts were centered around gratitude for people who have graciously sacrificied their most precious commodity (time) on behalf of me or others I care about.  Just one brief example should illustrate my point.

Yesterday, Trent V (our troop Scoutmaster), spent almost his entire day (before 7:00am until after 7:00pm) supporting our Boy Scouts.  Now I was there too, and I drove, etc. BUT there is a big difference here.  Trent doesn't have a son in our troop.  In fact, Trent has no real obligation to support these scouts, other than his own desires to serve other people and help these boys learn how to be successful men (husbands, fathers, adults, etc.)

Let me be clear here.  For scout leaders or other adults there is literally NOTHING to do at camp all day long!

There is no wifi or internet.  In fact, most of our phones were out of range, so you cannot even make calls or communicate with others outside the camp area.  Unless you want to learn about whatever merit badge one of the boys is learning about, it is just a lot of sitting and trying to stay cool and not get eaten alive by mosquitos or other bugs.

Trent did the best he could to put his time to good use (planning a lesson for church, catching up on some reading, taking a hike on the LONG nature trail - he did NOT expect it to be as long as it was), but at the end of the day it was mostly just a lost day.

I know I thanked him for being there, but I wonder if I really showed enough gratitude for his sacrifice of time.  And this is just one example.  There are many others I need to make sure know I appreciate their time and effort.

Song Of The Day:
I was unable to find the song "On A Hopeful Note" by John Jarvis on YouTube.  It is a very uplifting piece of music that fits perfectly with this post.  BUT ... I did find "A Perfect Rain" and it is a nice substitute!  :)


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Why Are You Following Me ?

James N is an accomplished attorney,
and a good friend of our family.
So there we (myself, my oldest son, and Aaron B) were, almost home from our return trip** to Camp Cris Dobbins, when we spied our Young Men's President, James N, just a little ways up the street.  So we drove up next to him and chatted with him for a little bit.  He was out jogging and had stopped in to say hi to his sister, but she wasn't at her house so he was just going to head back home.  And off he went.  **(it was a make-up day for the scouts to finish the merit badges they had started at camp a month ago before we were evacuated due to the Black Forest fire).

I started to turn the car around when Aaron joked and said "You should totally follow him all the way home, like we're stalking him."  We all laughed ... and then I did EXACTLY THAT!

I drove a little ways up the street.  James heard us coming and, thinking we were joking about running him over, he ran off at a sprinter's pace.  I quickly pulled to the side of the road and instructed the boys to pretend like we were looking at something in the neighbor's yard.  And off he went.  The boys were giggling.

After he turned the corner, I sped up the street and slowly rounded the corner.  He was alittle ways down the street but must have felt our presence somehow because he turned around to look back at us.  By that time I had pulled over next to another house, and the boys were dutifully looking at the sidewalk.  James shook his head ... And off he went.  Now the boys were laughing loudly.

I drove a little further down the street and James turned around, running backwards, with his arms stretched outward while giving us a "What is going on?!" kind of look.  I stopped the van in the middle of the street and just looked down.  When I looked up, James had stopped too, but he just shook his head again ... And off he went.  This time, quite rapidly.  I was worried about the boys' ability to breath as they were gasping for air between bouts of roaring laughter.

I came around the curve in the road to see him run around another corner, so I sped up trying to catch him before he got too far up the next street.  I flew around the corner and quickly came to a stop sign.  Several things happened all at once:
 - I looked up and down that street but James was no where to be seen.
 - Aaron shouted from the back seat "Oh no!  He's in the tree!"
 - Josh shouted "Ahhh!  Here he comes!  Drive!  DRIVE!!!"
 - And James started banging on the passenger side window while shouting the title of this blog post.

I rolled the window down and we all enjoyed a good laugh about the experience.  James expressed his changing thoughts and emotions, while I recounted the hilarious laughter coming from these two young men.  We said good bye to James ... And off he went.  The boys chuckled and did that long sigh you get after laughing very hard.

But, I decided, that it wasn't over YET!

I raced off in the opposite direction of James and took a back way to the next major intersection he would be crossing.  The boys were literally begging me to stop.  I pulled the car to the side of the road (in a turn lane) and put my hazard lights on.  And there we sat for about 3 minutes until we saw James come to the light at the corner.  The boys started laughing even louder and then James looked toward our vehicle.  The look on his face was a mix of shock, fear, amusement, and maybe a little despair.  He stretched his arms outward again giving us a "Seriously guys?!" kind of look ... And off he went.

I have never heard these boys laugh so long, so loudly, or so hard in the years I have spent at various activities with them.  It was pure joy and a memory that none of us will likely ever forget.  Thanks James for being a willing(?) victim of our harmless stalking.

Song Of The Day:
I have several CDs by an a capella group that goes by the name InsideOut.  I love their harmonies but also appreciate the humor of some of their songs.  What a perfect post to use "The Stalking Song" which is set to the tune of Happy Together by the Turtles.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Why Are My Kids So Uptight ?

I must preface this post by saying that I am NOT asking this title questions about my kids.  Other than on certain occasions (usually when they are hungry), my kids are NOT uptight, needy, high-maintenance, quick to complain, or otherwise so tightly wound that they cannot deal with even minor changes.

I love my kids and am grateful for
their positive approach to life!

I AM talking about other people's kids.  You know whose kids I am referring to.  It shouldn't take you more than a few moments to remember a recent scenario when you thought aloud to yourself "Whose KIDS are those?!"  And if you're like me, when you do see the parents you might make a fairly quick judgement like "Ohhhh, that makes sense."

I would apologize for any parents this may offend, but I'm NOT sorry.  In fact, you need to hear this and I might as well be the one to tell you.  I am not a perfect parent by any definition of the role, but in my years of parenting I have gained some useful knowledge (much of it from making plenty of mistakes).

Sadly, much of your child's crankiness is NOT a natural reaction, but has been nurtured into them.
 - If they are picky about what they eat, think back on when you catered to their preferences ... or perhaps went the other way and forced too much on them.
 - If your child gets cranky WAY early and wakes up WAY early, remember when you trained them with that schedule through your actions.
 - If your child does not "play well with others" (is bothered by loud noises, has difficulty sharing, doesn't seem to make friends easily, doesn't trust other people, cannot handle being in large group settings, etc.) ... the issue almost always begins with YOU.

Kids model what they see.  For better or worse.
I think most grandparents realize this, which is why they are so much nicer and patient with grandkids than they were with their own children.  With experience has come some wisdom.  "Ohhhhhh, why is he acting like that?!  ... Wait.  I act like that!  Eureka!" and then they improve their own behavior to the betterment of everyone around them.

So please stop complaining about how rough life is with your kiddos.  Stop whining that they never let you leave them alone for a date night or to read a book.  Stop blaming them for being an interruption in your life.  Instead, start recognizing that their behavior is a reflection of YOUR BEHAVIOR and if you want them to change, perhaps YOU should change first.

Song Of The Day:
Flipping the tone of this post from negative (toward these complaining parents) to positive, here is "Come With Me" by Phil Collins.  Listen to the lyrics because they make me think of a loving parent who helps their children be better than them by teaching them how to not repeat their mistakes.  I hope that I can do that for my children.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

What Was Your Goal ?

July is always mid-year evaluation time at Progressive.  This is a time when I, as a Supervisor (with about 22 employees who directly report to me) invest significant time assessing their individual performance thus far this year.  I am under the obligation to write a Performance Evaluation for each employee, providing ratings in about 5 or 6 major areas of performance.  I also provide an overall performance rating and then discuss these results with each person individually.  This last step often includes goal setting and very rarely, some revision to the evaluation I have put together.

I take these "check ins" very seriously.  My personal goal is for there to be absolutely NO surprises for these employees as they review what I have written.  I expect them to remember conversations we have had earlier this year and when they read their PE (performance evaluation), they should come away with two things: knowledge of their strengths and opportunities ... and ... knowledge that I am aware of and care about what they are doing in their role.

Without intending to sound prideful about it, I must say that it is always rewarding when I achieve these goals, which I have done consistently for the past 3 or 4 years at least.  There is something gratifying about being on the same page with an employee whose performance you are somewhat responsible for.  I say "somewhat" because ultimately it is always every employee's individual responsibility for their own results.  The Manager, Supervisor, Leader, or Boss merely influences and supports the employee achieving or exceeding their goals.

With that in mind, I have to say, I am often disappointed when I receive my own PE, especially around the mid-year time.  I have yet to report to a Manager who seems to put as much energy into this process as I do.  I have felt for the past several years (at least 3), that my PE was simply a box that needed to be checked off for my boss.  Even if the words that are written are generally positive and the ratings are accurate, I always hope for a brief recap at the start of my Manager's goal in writing what they did.  Am I supposed to be motivated?  Should I feel bad for failures or missed opportunities?  Is my performance headed in the right direction?

Sadly, the presentation of my mid-year PE today was NOT accompanied with clearly defined answers to these questions.  I am grateful for the opportunity to ask them directly to my boss next week, but I fear it will be a stressful couple of days until I can clarify the intent of her writing and ratings.

Song Of The Day:
It's been way too long since I last shared an OMD song, so here is "Was It Something I Said" from their best CD: Sugar Tax.  If you ever find yourself in a position where you are expected to judge performance and write about it on an individual level, may I suggest that you set expectations for your direct reports BEFORE delivering the evaluation?  From my limited experience, it makes a BIG difference!

BONUS - While pulling this song of the day, I came across a Mash-Up of this song and Rihanna's Pon De Replay.  Here it is, titled simply "Was It De Replay" ... what do you think?


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why Are They Just Standing Around ?

This is another venting post.  Feel free to skip it if you don't like reading my complaining.  I just have to blog this frustration so I can let it go.  Writing it down works wonders for me in that way.  Once vented, my anger or disappointment is almost always gone entirely.  So here goes ...

Tonight our youth at church had a service project for an older couple (not members of our church) who lost their home in the Black Forest fire.  It is a sad situation for sure, and I for one was really looking forward to helping out these people I didn't even know.  Good Christian service.

We (the adults and leaders) knew about this event for at least 10 days, which seems to me to be plenty of time to plan accordingly.  The objective was to cut up felled trees (from their burned property plot) and pile the logs in between trees and branches into piles to be discarded of at a later time.  This basically only requires a handful of things: volunteers (we had about 30), work gloves (most people brought their own), and chain saws (we had only TWO, and they were only BOTH working for maybe 1/3 of the time).

The volunteers cleared the branches and logs that had previously been cut in maybe 20 minutes (and they were NOT working very hard or fast for reference).  And then everyone just sort of stood around waiting for more work to do.  This would have been troubling enough, but the response of the main person in charge of the activity is what really revved me up.

He asked, very loudly, "Why are they just standing around?"  He was specifically referring to the young women who were there as they had formed a small circle and were just chatting up a storm.  My loud response to him (and everyone) was "There's nothing to do because this was not planned out very well now was it?!"  I cannot be sure he heard, but I know most of the other adults did and their agreement with my statement seemed pretty obvious by their reactions.

Compounding the issue is that this leader has voiced his disapproval of the involvement level of these good young women at other activities.  Well, maybe if YOU planned better activities that were sensitive to THEIR needs and encouraged them to participate AND gave them something to DO the whole time (instead of having time to just stand around), things would be better!

Wasting the available human power at an activity like this is bothersome enough, but when the planner of the poorly planned event complains about the 'waiting around human power' I lose my ability to respect them.

Song Of The Day:
Another song about love that I am repurposing the title of to fit into this post.  "Make Me Lose Control" by Eric Carmen provides a great theme song to help me get past the frustration I feel toward these kinds of complaining about others without realizing THEY could be the problem people.
I am sure to be a bit of a hypocrite here, so if you know me, let me know when I am passing the buck but should instead be footing the bill.  I promise to hear you out and simply thank you for your input.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why Does Fasting Make Me SO Hungry ?

I love to eat.

I have blogged before about the best kind of food (free food, for those who didn't see that post), but to my recollection I have never talked about how much I love eating.  I enjoy the experience of enjoying the food I am eating almost as much as the taste of it.  That said, I usually don't get hungry ... really ... ever.

Homemade pancakes.  Yum!
I eat breakfast sporadically (2-4 times a week).  I skip lunches several times a week as well (I almost never miss BOTH breakfast and lunch so if you're reading this mom, don't freak out!)  I don't miss these meals on purpose as a weight control plan.  I just get busy and don't really think about food that often.  I know some people plan their whole day around their eating and I admire those folks.  I am sure they are healthier than I and secretly I wish I could be more like them.
But I just don't crave food on that kind of regular basis.  With one exception ...

When I am fasting (be it for religious or medical reasons - such as my recent Biometric Health Screening at work), I can think of almost nothing else aside from MY NEXT MEAL!

I know the absence of something, or rather the inability to have that thing, makes you want it more.  But it seems to be an extreme case with me and a specified time of separation from food.

Song Of The Day:
The song "Fall For You" by Secondhand Serenade is all about love ... and the line "because tonight will be the night that I will fall for you over again" sums up my thoughts all day about food when I am fasting.  That break my fast meal is always my favorite one that I fall in love with over again.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Have You Ever Written Your Own Top Ten Lists ?

While completing the recent master bedroom makeover, I was going through boxes of books to finally display our collection in our large bookcase.  Among the many things I came across were some "Top Ten" lists that I had hand-typed while serving my LDS mission in Los Angeles, California.  I had purchased a $1 typewriter, with sticky and broken keys (which I fixed more out of stubbornness than necessity), and some of my fellow Elders (missionaries) had spent many an evening (after "lights out" time) crudely typing out our hilarious (to us anyway) ideas for Top Ten lists (a la David Letterman).

So here below are pictures of two lists that I kept, apparently because they were more hilarious than the rest.  I guess the "haircut" list couldn't be shortened to just 10 items ...

My kids' favorite (mine too) is ... "I bet I can run faster than you."

The topic for this list is in terrible taste,
so please forgive my sophmoric
sense of humor from those younger days.

I shared these lists with my kids over dinner tonight, and they actually laughed.  Most of them are too young to understand the courtesy laugh so I guess these were funny enough.

Song Of The Day:
Semi-amusing lists are deserving of a semi-amusing song ... so here is an oldie but a goodie that is more a nod to my family's weird sense of musical appreciation.  I listened to many a Spike Jones classic in my youth (thanks mom and dad!), including this version of the "William Tell Overture" which is the silly story about a horse race and Beetle Baum.  Good times.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Will I Ever Use Them All ?

I believe everyone has something they collect too much of.  Shoes, CDs, books, amusing anecdotes, photos to scrapbook, office pens, cars ... the list goes on and on.
Think about it and I'm sure in just a minute or two you'll find your own example.

For the purposes of this post, I will share just ONE of my many never going to justify having all of these collections:  screws and nails.

Not to be confused with 'pins and needles', my collection of screws and nails rivals a small hardware store.  Certainly I cannot compete with Lowe's or Home Depot's selection, but it became evident this past week that I have more than I will ever use ... in my life!

This isn't even 1/3 of my collection ... whew!

At least half of my collection was a recent inheritance from my father, who decided (in his move to Arizona) that he just didn't need to lug these heavy, poorly organized containers of screws, nails, bolts, nuts, washers, and other assorted hardware.  So, not wanting good quality items to go to waste, I took them off his hands and they have sat in my garage for a few months waiting to be better organized (for presumed easy use at some unpredictable later date).  It took several hours, but I have now separated the various items into styles, sizes, lengths, shapes, purposes, and other categories that only I will ever appreciate.

Now I need to find a reason to use them ... project ideas anyone ?

Song Of The Day:
Start the mocking now, but since the song itself has been so overused in movies, tv shows, commercials, etc. my song today is "Endless Love" but not the original version.  I much prefer the more recent version by Lionel Richie featuring Shania Twain.  I just like the more reggae and soft drum opening feel of this one.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Who Vacuums Their Vacuum?

You may not be able to tell from this picture,
but the dust and dirt was ALL OVER !
Besides Monk, I don't think anyone chooses to vacuum their vacuum, but when the bag inside tears, you have no choice.  This is what happened to me when I was finishing the last of my "To Do" items before Karen and the kiddos got home.  Fortunately, I was vacuuming the BIG VAN so everything happened in the garage, where clean up was definitely easier than inside the house.

But I bet it was also weird for anyone walking or driving by to see me vacuuming the garage floor (after the torn bag was removed and the vacuum was cleaned, I still needed to get the excess dust off the floor and nearby bikes and assorted garage items).

Song Of The Day:
The song "Boomerang" was in my mind during this whole experience because I had to clean the vacuum with another vacuum, which is kind of like the dirt just boomeranging around ... or something like that.  Regardless it's a great a capella song by Voices In Your Head (from the University of Chicago).  Enjoy!


Friday, July 19, 2013

What Do You Think Of The New Master Bedroom ?

I've already blogged about my "To Do List" while I was a temporary bachelor.  But as yet, I was unable to share photos of the main project on that list: painting our master bedroom.

Karen hasn't really been after me to get the room painted, but we've been in the home for over three years now and have lived with a green wall speckled with gold-leaf like foil spots, off-set with white walls filled with holes from nails and screws.

Bottom line: It was time for a change.

So herewith are the pictures, before and after as best as I could manage.  I can post them tonight and then will wait a few days to post the blog and link to Facebook (since Karen gets home tomorrow evening and I want her to see it first).

The BEFORE Pictures
Bay window (plain white before)

Northeast corner (green with gold speckles before)

Northwest corner (white before)

Southwest corner (white before)
(You can see our small patch of test color choices)
The green and gold wall
(AFTER covering with two coats of white paint)

The AFTER Pictures
Northeast corner AFTER

Northwest corner AFTER

Southwest corner AFTER

Southeast corner AFTER
(I was unable to get the same angled
picture of the bay window after the
painting because of the sunlight)
I do not have pictures of the new room set-up, but the bed is now framed by the bay window, where it was against the green and gold speckled (flaky) wall before.  The new layout is much more open and feels like we have a LOT more space (we even have a reading chair in the room now!)  If you want to see it, come on by!  I'd be happy to show it off (especially the perfect tape lines between walls!)  :)

Song Of The Day:
I truly love my sweet wife and have missed her while she has been gone this past week. It was easier to paint with her and the kiddos gone, but I thought of her (and her anticipated reaction) while I spent many hours painting, taping, re-painting, touching up, and then rearranging the room.
To my Pretty Lady, it is true that I would do "Anything For You" (even though Gloria Estefan's song by the same name is more about lost love, the title certainly applies here!)


Thursday, July 18, 2013

What's The Best Part Of Painting ?

As I reflect on my 13+ years as a homeowner (3 different houses during that time), I have come to the realization that I have done a LOT of interior painting.  I am certainly not the only person who can make this claim, but when I think about the sheer volume of space I have painted it literally makes my arms, shoulders, and back begin to ache.

In our first house, all of the walls were once painted an off-white color, to help mask the smoke smell from the previous tenants.  Our master bedroom was painted a nice red color (two of the walls anyway) and the boys' bedroom was painted with various "Little People" animals of all colors.  I was quite proud of that room, even though some of the animals never got completely finished.  Then the red room was re-painted white so we could sell the house.

This is one small section of the
"Princess Room" for the girls
In our second home, I painted a princess room for the girls (large and small bricks/blocks that made the walls look like a castle) complete with multi colored flags and scenes off in the distance.  The boys' room was painted in Bronco Orange and Blue, with hand stamps (theirs of course) of the opposite color in two-thirds of the room.  The master bedroom and bathroom area was the most time consuming, as it included multiple walls painted to look like standard red bricks.  This effect required multiple coats of paint before and after various taping steps.  The other walls were painted green.  The main level of the home, including its HUGE walls connected to the vaulted ceiling, was painted in a dark green and light tan pattern (alternating walls).  All three bedrooms were painted an eggshell color when we decided to sell the home.  I also painted the interior of the garage, including the ceiling, a flat white color (two coats since it was the bare sheet rock I was painting).

In our current home, the office is painted in a blue and tan beach-like theme.  Spencer's bedroom is painted in a mosaic-like pattern, with three alternating colors: green, blue, and teal.  My sister-in-law painted the "toy room" a nice pink and dark brown pattern, but I did help with taping and edges so I'm counting it.  The garage has been 95% painted (a few new sections of sheet rock and part of the ceiling are untouched ... yet) again in an plain white shade.  And then I recently completed the master bedroom painting (pictures of which you will see in tomorrow's blog post).  And there is more to come as soon as we decide what to do with our main level (the open floor plan makes it hard to know where to start or stop with different colors).

This is a tape-ball from the most recent
"master bedroom" project I finished.
Through all of this, one thing remains constant.  The BEST part of painting is a joy I selfishly reserve for myself.  After all, I am the one who cleaned the walls, applied the tape, painted base layers of primer, etc. and then did all the touch up around the corners, edges, and hard to reach places.
So what's the BEST part?!
Removing the tape!
This is the big reveal and it is always gratifying!

Song Of The Day:
When I think about all this painting I realize there are "Too Many Walls" that have taken my attention over the years.  Luckily this song by Cathy Dennis puts a positive sounding spin on the presence of lots of walls.  Yeah, it's a cheesy tie in but you think of a better spot to use this great 80's song!  :)


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Is That A Cop ?

Imagine you're driving along the road a few miles over the speed limit.  You're just chilling, listening to your tunes and enjoying the beautiful day.
Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see it.
There's a car ahead and it looks like ... wait, is it? ... aw crap!  It IS!

A police officer.  On the side of the road.  With his or her radar gun pointed at your lanes of traffic.

I am fairly confident I am not the only one who thinks these thoughts, even if I'm doing the speed limit or driving plenty safely.  There is just a fear that overtakes me.  It continues on as I drive past the officer and begin checking my rear view mirrors ... to see if he or she is coming after me!  Again, I do this EVERY time, even if I'm driving properly and have no reason to fear.

Now another scenario, which actually happened to me this morning.

Imagine you are driving along toward your destination, travelling at a few miles over the speed limit.  Out of literally nowhere, another vehicle comes flying up behind you and narrowly misses your rear bumper as they swerve into the next lane (with no blinker of course) to pass you, only to almost hit the front of your car as they swerve right back in front of you ... and slow down just long enough to give you a special salute with his hand.
Then, in the near distance ahead, you see it.  There's a car on the side of the road ahead and it appears to be ... yes, yes it IS!

A police officer.  And he or she just ... flipped on ... their lights!

Justice is served.  I feel no remorse toward my one-fingered friend.  A short distance up the road I avoid the temptation to salute him back and just drive on, a little happier, to my destination.

Song Of The Day:
Okay, okay.  So it is always easy to judge people when they say they like young artists who got their start on a Disney-type TV show.  But I don't care.  Sometimes the songs are just so catchy it's hard not to love them.  Selena Gomez' recent hit is titled "Come And Get It" and the video is plenty racy (so maybe just listen to the music).  But that song was playing on the radio a little while after this aggressive driver got his just desserts.  He came and got his ticket.  Thanks you silly, angry man-child!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How Do You Unwind After A Long Day ?

As expected, today was looooong and tiring.  Getting to bed late last night because of the concert and an absolutely every minute is filled with meetings schedule at work combined to exhaust me today.  So instead of working on more "projects" I rewarded myself with a chance to unwind.

Two things help me "unwind" more than anything else, at least when I'm a temporary bachelor anyway.  First, exercise (in this case basketball).  Second, stand up comedy routines (in this case, some good clean fun with "Thou Shalt Laugh 2" and not as clean but just as funny stuff from Ben Bailey).  When I am feeling beaten down from the day's events (and not in the mood to read), either of these activities will quickly lift my spirits and re-energize me.  But tonight, getting to do BOTH completely relaxed me!

I recommend Ben Bailey's comedy special, available on Netflix.  If you don't recognize the name, I know you'll recognize the face.  He's the Cash Cab guy ... and that is actually part of his bit.  I won't say more or I'll spoil it.  But I will say that I plan to watch it again when Karen comes home, even if she doesn't laugh as loud as I will.  :)

So how do you unwind?  A good book?  Some wine on the back porch?  A relaxing bath or massage?  Listening to music?  Meditating?
Whatever you choose, I hope you take time to let yourself relax, especially after a crazy busy day.  You deserve it!

Song Of The Day:
I've included two versions of the song for today, because both are just so excellent.  Phil Collins performs the original "Take Me Home" but don't miss the opportunity to hear the Tufts Beelzebubs' version linked HERE.  I honestly can't decide which one I like better.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Are You A Security Guard Or Something ?

Our first "seats" had a great view of the stage,
but quickly got blocked by "standers"
Standing with my arms folded at the very back of the second lawn area at Fiddler's Green in Centennial, CO and wearing a dark black windshirt, I can understand why I was asked that question by a woman who had clearly enjoyed MORE than just music at the Goo Goo Dolls / Matchbox 20 concert that my little brother Jordan joined me for.

At one point, right near dusk, the lights made
it look like the stage was on fire!
It was the conversation that followed and her deadpan impression of me (and probably had a little to do with how close she was to my personal space), which led Jordan and I to slowly meander in the direction opposite her merry band of mixed-drink minstrels.

I have been around quite a few inebriated people in my life, despite my own no-alcohol status.  Vitually all people, when drunk, say and do things that they don't do when they are sober.  Sometimes it's funny.  Sometimes it's angry.  But most times, in my opinion anyway, it's just a little sad.  Yes this is me being judgmental and you can think less of me if you wish (but then you'll be judging me so there's that to keep in mind).

This purple color was only a theme for a few minutes,
but it was my favorite stage setting of the evening!
Many of my work friends enjoy alcohol in their free time, and I believe most of them know how to handle themselves when imbibing.  My concern is when people feel they must drink in order to really enjoy themselves.  That's the part I find sad.  This concert was pretty great, with some very talented artists and an absolutely perfect evening weather wise, to enjoy the venue.  Those people who needed some liquid accelerant to enjoy the experience missed out on an already fantastic night.

Thanks Jordan for coming with me, for laughing with me, for letting me dominate our slug-bug wars (driving and walking), and for switching places with me when Ms Slursherwords was getting uncomfortably close!

Song(s) Of The Day:
There is no way I can pick just one song from these two great groups to represent the awesome concert.  So here are studio versions of my favorite three (they were all even better in person).
First, here are "Rebel Beat" and "Come To Me" by the Goo Goo Dolls.  And then here is "I Will" by Matchbox 20.  Sooo many great songs, this is just a taste.  Enjoy!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wait, What Time Is It ?

At the top of my To Do list for this weekend and coming week was painting our master bedroom.  We chose two colors: a nice purple and a tan/brown color.  But as I've mentioned before, projects usually have several steps and painting is no different.

One wall in our bedroom had been painted when we bought the house.  And the previous owners had done something with gold, silver, and bronze mixed foil-like etching on that wall.  So I had to scrape and scratch and wipe off those flecks of color before I could put a base coat of white paint BEFORE I could paint the new color.  And then there are always the tasks of removing pictures and furniture, patching holes and taping edges ... so many edges.

You can see the "flecks" of foil-like stuff on that green wall.

I was very industrious yesterday and got ALL of the above done, except painting the new color on that wall.  It was a late night, but I was energized by the progress and woke up early this morning to jump right into painting the first color around the room.  And that's when I goofed.

And here is that wall all "white"
(you can also see a portion of the tan/brown)
You see, church starts at 11:00am.  I know this.  It's that way every week (this year anyway).  But somehow, in my head, I had it that I needed to be to church at 1:00pm!  So as it got closer to 11:00am I was happily painting some of the last touch up areas and thought "I'm doing great!  Way ahead of schedule for what I planned.  I'll be to church early.  Life is good."

At approximately 11:23am reality set in.  I don't know what set it off but I realized I was LATE.  Fortunately I was at a good stopping point, but it was still a frantic rush to shave, shower, clean off paint brushes, and skedaddle on over to the building in time for Sunday School.

Sigh.  I just hate it when that happens.  Oh well.  :)

Song Of The Day:
If only for the line "get me to the church on time" I had no choice but to use David Bowie's "Modern Love" as the song today.  Classic tune.  Totally fits today.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

How Will Man Survive ?

There is a creature that exists only when the moon is just right and the stars align just so.  He lives among us and leads a normal life most of the time.  In fact, you've probably interacted with one of these beings in the last week or so ... and didn't even know it!  No, we're not talking about a werewolf or some mythical creature like that.  This is a living, breathing thing, which scientists and great minds have often wondered about.  The questions are endless.  The answers are just best guesses, because these creatures are generally thought to be of lesser intellect and incapable of more than just a few basic functions.

The creature is simply referred to as: Temporary Bachelor.

Most of the time, this mammal is seen in a habitat surrounded by his tribe or clan.  The make-up of these groupings varies so much that any attempt to define normal parameters would inadvertantly exclude dozens of realistic scenarios.  Suffice it to say, there are always one or more other human beings in this creature's domain ... and the absence of these other people is what triggers the metamorphasis from "Man" or "Husband" or "Father" into "Temporary Bachelor" or TB for short.

In a rare recent sighting of one of these TB's, here is evidence that when left alone, some of these creatures are quite adept at foraging for food.

Note the creative use of different available materials and the surprising success this TB had in using an oven (and he was able to use the proper buttons and features to achieve the desired, and likely tasty, result).

If you come across one of these TBs, do not be alarmed or afraid.  They are generally very docile and most often would accept a kind word or hug.  Just don't ask about their tribe or clan as this may casue a range of reactions that I take no responsibility for.

Song Of The Day:
In honor of these often misunderstood creatures, here is a song by Mat Kearney titled "She Got The Honey"  One repeated portion of the lyrics applies here ... "back to the beginning" ... which is what these unfortunate TBs are forced to deal with when their tribe or clan travels away temporarily.


Friday, July 12, 2013

You Gonna Miss Me ?

Tomorrow morning, my wife and 5 youngest kids (boy does that sound weird?!) will embark on a road trip ... without me.  My oldest 2 sons (also sounds weird) have been with their Grandma and Grandpa in Queen Creek, AZ for the past 3 weeks ... and it's time for them to come on home.  Especially since school starts in less than TWO weeks after they will get home (that may be the weirdest sounding thing so far!)

My true "middle child," almost 8-year-old Savannah, asked me this evening
"Are you gonna miss me daddy?" and the other kids (along with my wife) wondered the same thing.
Of course the answer was a swift and resounding
"Yeah!  I'm gonna miss you like crazy!"

But ... here's a little secret ...

For the first few days of temporary bachelor status, life is pretty sweet!  I'm usually so busy doing things I want to get done that I don't start missing anyone.  Oh sure, the evenings right around bedtime can be lonely, but otherwise, I'm in full "Get 'R Done!" mode ... and I like that a LOT !

Here's my starter To Do list (picture added on Tuesday, 7/16) for this week:

I know by Tuesday afternoon I will be missing my family terribly, but until then I have plenty to keep me occupied, don'tcha think ?!  :)

Song Of The Day:
If you like a capella music and haven't seen the movie "Pitch Perfect" then you should be ashamed.  Go rent it right now and then come back to listen to "When I'm Gone" by Anna Kendrick, the main female star from this excellently hilarious movie.  You can listen to the song before if you like, but you can't fully appreciate it's genius and beauty without seeing the movie.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why Not Get A Bigger Cup ?

I have used the same tumbler (I guess that's the technical name for it) at work for a few years now.  I clean it regularly so don't get all germophobic or anything.  It holds about 12 ounces of whatever liquid you want in it.  My preference is ice cold water.  In fact, I don't think I have ever had anything else in it honestly.

Anyway, I have been asked on several occasions why I use such a small mug for my water.  This usually comes up because my immediate neighbors in the office notice the multiple trips I take each day to the "water cooler" for refills.  Surely this efficient Supervisor would want to that he could minimize his repeat trips by switching to a larger container which would also allow him constant liquid refreshment without the interruption of a decent walk to the break room area.  I imagine that some thought along those lines must enter these people's minds.

But I do not want to switch.  I will not switch.  I am actually fulfilling more important tasks by limiting the size of my water container.  Consider the following:
 - I refill my water about 4-5 times a day on average.
 - I need make water about 4-5 times a day on average.
 - I am in the office for 8-10 hours a day on average.
 - I need to stretch my legs and get the blood flowing at least every 2 hours.

So when you think about it, it really comes down to simple math.  My trip to refill my water every hour or two allows for a restroom break, a stop at the printer to pick up work items, and a chance to wake up from just sitting at a desk.  So thanks but no thanks.  I'll keep my 'small' water tumbler.

Song Of The Day:
Although the song is not one of my favorites from the group Nickel Creek, I think "Reasons Why" fits well with this post.  I have my reasons why I keep my small cup.  And that's enough.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Can We Not Afford TWO Doors That Work ?

At work today I was able to resume entering the doors that are located closest to my desk.  They had been inaccessible for the better part of two weeks as the area was reconstructed to outfit a small security office and better control access into the building through our key card reader system.

Imagine my surprise to find the following sign(s) on the new doors.

The exterior door(s)

The interior door(s)

I understood the officially inscribed message back when we were having issues with the door locking and unlocking properly.  But ... didn't we just re-do this whole area?  Couldn't we have fixed that issue at the same time?  And what's up with needing to ADD a taped sign under the inscribed sign?  Are people seriously not reading the bigger, bolder, more permanently displayed message?  Is this scotch-taped piece of paper really resolving the problem of people not using the proper door?  And why on earth must we use the other door?  Why even have a second door if we can't use it?  Surely it is not just for decoration, because these signs are not providing better curb appeal.

I.  Just.  Don't.  Get.  It.

Song Of The Day:
Much like I can understand the logic behind this door situation, I cannot understand the words to the song "Cholat Ahava" by Tuft's Shir Appeal.  But I love the tune!  Sometimes we have to just accept what is before us and appreciate what we can, even if we do not fully understand.  I guess.  Yeah, sure ... that makes sense.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What The ... ?

This past Sunday, while watching my youngest son (Spencer, 7 months old) wiggle on the floor during Sacrament Meeting. I noticed that he kept fidgeting with his pacifier.  He is a very happy baby 99% of the time, but he was getting a little frustrated.  I resisted the urge to just fix things and put the pacifier properly in his mouth.

And I'm glad I did because, apparently, I would have done it wrong!

Here is how he wanted it in his mouth.

I would have never guessed that that was what would return the smile to his face!

Song Of The Day:
I have chosen the song "The Only Exception" by Paramore for this post based on a few different reasons.  One, Spencer's preferred pacifier placement in this situation is certainly the only exception I have seen to the standard use of these thumb replacements.  Two, I heard this song again today and remembered I wanted to use it in a post.  Three, this is a love song, and it made me think of my love of my kids, especially when they just do their own cute, unique things like this.


Monday, July 8, 2013

What Motivates You To Action ?

Personal motivation takes many forms.  Finding motivation can be difficult, whether it is for yourself or to support others.  Lasting motivation comes from deep-rooted values, but even these beliefs are not enough to motivate us to action in some situations.  What gets you moving and accomplishing things you want or need to do often depends less on your long-term goals and more on the here and now.

For me, I have found motivation from a variety of sources.  Music motivates me ... sometimes.  Exercise motivates me ... sometimes.  My wife and kids motivate me ... sometimes when I don't want to be motivated.  To Do lists and thinking about the end of a project motivates me much of the time.  But one thing motivates me every single time it happens!  I have yet to experience a situation where I do not take action when this one thing occurs.
I am always motivated by ... ANGER.

To be clear right from the start, my reaction to anger is almost always positive and not destructive.  The feeling of anger or disappointment just lights a fire for me that gives me energy to make changes or take action that will allow me to avoid that feeling in the future.  Dirty dishes piled up in the sink?  I can channel that frustration long enough to load the dishwasher.  Tree roots tangled with sprinkler lines?  I will take out my frustration on untangling that mess.  Opponent keeps scoring at will on the basketball court?  I will redirect my energy to tighter defense, if only to stop him once.

Even blogging has come in waves, often motivated by things that begin to rile me up.  I don't expect anyone to go back and track it, but I think you will find frustration, disappointment, discontent, or otherwise some form of anger, as the genesis for many of my posts.  But look closely and I think you'll see that the anger quickly gives way to more positive reactions and ideas on how to improve that situation going forward.  At least that is my hope.

Song Of The Day:
Not necessarily one of my favorite Bobby McFerrin songs, ** "Angry" just fits this post too well not to use.  I like that the lyrics and his delivery of them suggest a more positive reaction to situations that frustrate us.  This is not a hurt others kind of anger, but a we could make this better kind of response.
**Apologies for the song link not being included here ... I will remedy that once I can get a video loaded to YouTube.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Who Do People Expect You To Be ?

Sundays are great days to reflect and ponder on life.  In my house there are not usually "quiet" moments, but Sundays offer the best chances for a few minutes.

Today I have been thinking alot about my relationships with others.  Specifically, I have been reflecting on interactions from the preceding weeks where people around me seemed to expect certain reactions or behaviors from me in specific situations.  In some cases, I met their expectations by acting or being a certain way.  But in others, my actions or opinions seemed to surprise people greatly.  And I began to wonder if I am consistent in who I am and what I believe and how that rationale is implemented across all aspects of my life.

Some questions I asked myself included:
 - What do people count on me for?
 - What do people expect my action or reaction to be in certain circumstances?
 - Are my actions demonstrating my faith and beliefs?
 - Does how I spend my time support what I tell others is important to me?  Or is it contradictory, thus causing them to question my honesty and self-awareness?
And lastly ...
 - How would I live differently if I knew people were watching me and expecting me to handle situations in a certain way?
 - Would it give me strength in difficult situations?
 - Would it provide me with an ability to make wiser choices?

As with many of my posts, I do not have answers.  I only hope to share questions that may be of use to those who read these 'ramblings.'  I think we all can influence and be influenced for good.  Let us take time to reflect on the past and renew our commitments for the future.

Song Of The Day:
Of course I love a cappella music and the song "Take Me As I Am" by Completely Different Note is a great one for this post.  Although the message of the tune is more about learning to love again, the title ties in with the subject of this post.  Apologies for the mediocre recording of this song.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Why Do We Judge Others So Quickly ?

I have friends who are quick to judge certain people without anything more than sound bites of information about them.  Political personalities (Obama, Bush, etc.), celebrities of any level (Justin Bieber, Paula Dean, etc.), and even athletes (Tiger Woods, Danica Patrick, etc.) seem to be most susceptible to this kind of polarizing reaction.  I do not understand the phenomenon, but it is worth thinking about on a slightly deeper level.

What is is about pop culture that inspires such swift and most often negative reactions to people we do not personally know?  I am not defending individuals who actually may be horrible people, but should we judge them just based on what we hear in the media or from our friends?  I just wish we do a little research of our own before we make a judgement and then commit to it so strongly.  Without really digging into why decisions were made or trying to understanding that person's perspective, I worry that we are setting ourselves up for some very harsh judgement in that great and final day.  I for one, would appreciate knowing that whoever judges me took the time to think about my thought process before deciding that I lived a less-than-proper lifetime.

On some level, I actually believe that we will be our own judge when this life is over.  But instead of sitting down and defending our own life's choices, we will be forced to accept our earthly judgement of others in similar situations as our own fate.  The slight possibility that this might be remotely accurate gives me enough pause to curb my reactions and judgements, if only to try and understand the situation a little better.  Even if I am completely wrong, I feel better in this life for trying to withhold judgement ... and I have had my initial reactions proven inaccurate often enough to delay any future strong judgements.

Song Of The Day:
Blake Shelton's song "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking" is more about love than judging people, but I still think it applies here.  We are looking at wht the media shows us about people in pop culture, but rarely take the time to dig deeper.  Blake sings over and over again in this song "I wanna know, I wanna know" and I think that curiosity is better than possibly misjudging someone.