Saturday, August 31, 2013

What Did You Think The Job Was ?

I conducted an interview yesterday for a potential Sales Representative at our call center.  The gentleman inteviewed well and so I took him to shadow (sit with) one of our strong sales reps so he could observe the systems we use, the flow of calls, and see the work environment (cubicles, phones, etc.) that would likely soon be his day-to-day work world.

Fifteen minutes later, one of my peers (who is known for being a prankster) comes to my desk in a bit of a panic and says "I'm about to walk your candidate out."  I asked why and he stated "I'm not sure but he just took his headset off in the middle of the call and then told the shadow rep 'I can't do this.  I need to leave.' so she came and got me."

As it turns out, this man had worked in an insurance call center before for 5 years.  He did not like that job or environment and just didn't want to do it again.  I respect the decision and his willingness to recognize it and act on it so abruptly ... but ... how did he not know that's what we were hiring for?

Song Of The Day:
I have conducted interviews for Progressive for well over a decade now, but I still feel a little down when the candidate isn't a good match for our company and culture.  In honor of this job-searching soul, here is "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" by U2.  I hope you find it soon ... but maybe don't waste your time interviewing if it is similar to job you previously did and disliked.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Have I Created A Monster ?

Tonight, during her birthay party sleepover, I overheard my oldest daughter Brooklyn say the following to her peers:  "Okay.  So you all need to remember if you're the last person coming upstairs you need to make sure you turn off all the lights.  Because I just went downstairs and every light was on.  The movie room.  The bedroom.  In the hallway.  That's not okay guys so remember that, okay?!"

She then went on to make sure all of her friends said okay and they went on playing.

Oh boy!

While I am proud of her commitment to not wasting energy, etc. I think I may need to talk to her about timing of sharing that message.  Not the best at a birthday party!  :)

Song Of The Day:
I have actually already posted a comment on Facebook about the "stats" for tonight's party, but as a reminder ... myself and Spencer (9 months old) are the only males in this house right now.  In honor of all that estrogen, I revert back to "Women III" which is one of my favorite OMD songs.  The lyrics don't apply, but there are just so many females here ... driving me crazy!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

How'd That Work Out For You Bro ?

The not-very-talkative guy who provided me with the fastest-in-the-world "How To" instructions on how to use the sod cutter I rented today asked me this blog post title when I returned the equipment this evening.

I guess he realized after I was gone that his explanation left me completely confused.

I figured it out myself, mostly through trial and error but also by piecing together the instructions he gave me while he pushed and pulled various levers and buttons.  From memory and using my super sleuthing skills I was able to engage the sod cutting blade at the right times, while maneuvering the drive chain for the wheels at the proper speed.  It is probably a miracle (thanks angels in heaven) that nothing was severed or destroyed.

Shout out to Brooklyn and Ben for their help in moving the dead and newly cut sod to the pile in the front easement.  I am not looking forward to loading that pile into a trailer or big trash bin, but it will be much easier from there than the middle of the yard.

Song Of The Day:
There have been many versions of the song "Grazing In The Grass" but I like this original version from The Friends Of Distinction.  I also like their group name.

Try to imagine this conversation about an upcoming party ...
          Random Nosy Friend:  So who's coming to this little shindig?
                    Me:  Um just Friends of Distinction
          Random Nosy Friend:  Does that group include me?
                    Me:  Nope.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The SPL Was The MC For A COH ?

First, some definitions:
 - SPL = Senior Patrol Leader ... this is a position held by the youth leader in a Boy Scout Patrol.
 - MC = Master of Ceremonies ... this is the person who leads an activity or event.
 - COH = Court Of Honor ... this is a regular meeting held in Scouting, where boys receive merit badges and/or advancements in rank.

Josh Jr (SPL) handing his brother Ben his merit badge
for Citizenship in the Nation
So now on to my bragging about my oldest son.  I have rarely done this in my blog, but I am very proud of my son and want him to know it (outside of my telling him this multiple times).

Using just a hand-written outline of an agenda, he kept things moving by efficiently covering all items and actually finishing on time (one hour).  He coordinated the flag ceremony (albeit just moments before the meeting began) and properly introduced others when turning time over to them for various segments of the agenda.  He was very respectful in the way he handed out merit badges to his fellow scouts (this was just asked of him on the spot, but it seemed like he had already prepared for it).

L-R ... Bro VanDenBerghe (Scoutmaster)
Josh Case Jr (Senior Patrol Leader)
Karen Case (Mom)
Josh Jr, I know you have said how nervous you felt, but you did great!  I mean it when I say you are the only one who could tell you were nervous.  I have seen many young men struggle with speaking and leading in public, but none impressed me as much as you did this night.  Well done!

Song Of The Day:
The song "Lead Me" by Sanctus Real is about a man's relationship with his children, his wife, and his God.  I have chosen it because my son is leading others (including myself) when he acts appropriately and fulfills his assignments with such aplomb.  Thank you son!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Do Your Shoes Come Untied Often?

Even when I exclude the times when my youngest kids, Myra and Spencer, untie them because they think it is fun, I seem to have suffered from an inordinate amount of untied shoelaces.

It hasn't mattered which shoes I am wearing or what activity I am involved in.  They just come loose at least once during the day.

So as a problem solver, I decided to start double-knotting them.  This immediately resolved the issue of the shoes coming untied, but it created a different problem: it takes too long to remove my shoes when I actually want them off.  I prefer to be able to take my shoes off quickly, especially lately when I am switching shoes in order to work in the yard.  (Side note: I feel like Mister Rogers EVERY time I sit down with the specific intent of simply changing my shoes).

So now ... I'm tying them differently.

A few years ago, this man saw me tying one of my kids' shoes and he felt it necessary to come over and critique my shoelace tying process.  His intent was to help me teach my kids how to get their laces to lay properly on the shoes.  Apparently, the ends of the laces are supposed to rest on your shoes in a parallel direction to the loops you have tied.  Who knew?  And at that moment, who cares?!  I'm not a shoe model or anything so why does it matter?

As it turns out, tying the laces in more of a proper square knot actually keeps laces from randomly becoming untied.  Instead of having the bunny go around the front of the hole before going in, I now make the bunny go behind the hole and then head on home.  This makes a truer square knot and since I have adopted this process I only tie my shoes once per day.  The problem of untied shoes is also neatly resolved.

If you need a visual of this, just ask me sometime.  I have now become that old man who awkwardly feels the need to share his "wisdom" with the uneducated shoelace users of the world.  Mock away.  I don't care.  My laces are not coming undone ... and they look great!

Song Of The Day:
What better song for this feet related post than "Pies Descalzos" by Shakira.  Most folks know her from singles such as Hips Don't Lie or Whenever, Wherever, but I heard her first on a mix tape from my buddy Craig, who was serving his mission in Brazil.  This was the song on that tape which I loved the most, even if I had no idea what it was about.  Turns out, the title means "Bare Feet" and the lyrics to the song are almost as good as the tune itself.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Just Another "Day Off" ?

What a Monday!

Sometimes a day off can be relaxing and give you a chance to recharge for the days or weeks to come.  Today was NOT one of those days.  Today was a day off that will cost me about a week to recover from.

The short list of activities completed today:
 - Pick up lawn mower
 - Finish load of laundry (permanent press items)
 - Mow front and back lawn (on lowest setting)
 - Purchase and have new tires installed on my car
 - Finish load of laundry (whites)
 - Buy a sewing machine (for Karen)
 - Purchase and replace the vacuum breaker (and copper piping connecting it to the sprinkler system and house) for my sprinkler system
 - Finish load of laundry (jeans)
 - Take Ben to have his glasses fixed
 - Food shopping at Wal-Mart
 - Finish load of laundry (girl's clothes)
 - Remove and replace backyard downspout / drainage
 - Pick pears from the pear tree
 - Finish load of laundry (boy's clothes)
 - Complete three haircuts (both boys and my hair)
 - Help three kids with various homework assignments
 - Finish load of laundry (towels)
 - Uncover backyard sprinkler heads
 - Repurpose one sprinkler zone in the manifold area (and fixing the drainage underneath the manifold housing)
 - Write 4 "catch-up" blog posts (and post 3 previous posts to Facebook)
 - Finish load of laundry (missed items and assorted bedding)

Song Of The Day:
While listening to tunes on my MP3 player during the above activities, I heard the song "As I Lay Me Down" by Sophie B Hawkins.  That is a great tune for today because as I lay me down tonight, I will have a feeling of great satisfaction with all that was completed today ... coupled with sheer exhaustion and physical pain from all the hard work of course.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Can I Overcome This Weak Grade ?

Below is the grade I received for my fantasy football draft.

The thing is ... this was the draft as completed by the computer-generated draft list.  I was unable to attend so the pre-programmed order of players guided my draft "choices."  This is the first time a computer has fully selected my fantasy team, which makes me wonder why we even use their suggestions in the first place.

If I trusted your analytics of player ranking and value, then why is my draft grade so low?  Shouldn't the draft grade for automated picks be better than a "C" ?  Or is that appropriate since "C" is supposed to suggest "average" ?  But then, does that mean it could be programmed to select a better lineup, but is instead dummied down to penalize people who miss the draft?

Regardless, I now begin the process of identifying which post-draft players to pick up.  I take solace in the fact that every year there are at least a handful of big point producers who were either late round pickups or claimed off waivers early in the season.  I don't care if I win the whole league, but not making the playoffs (after coming in 3rd last year) would be a big disappointment.

Song Of The Day:
I remember that the video for Dire Straits' hit song "Walk Of Life" was my first introduction to the concept of a football highlights video.  Long before ESPN and Sportscenter had theip Top Plays of the day and even longer before YouTube highlight packages, we were left to appreciate the great game of American football through compilation videos that were specially made, usually for other purposes.  I always remember this video when football season is upon us.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Movie Night At Work ?

I really do love where I work!

At least once per year, for the past few years anyway, Progressive has sponsored an outdoor movie presentation in the courtyard between our North and South buildings.  There is always lots of snacky food (cotton candy, popcorn, sno cones, sodas, etc.) and the movie being played on the big inflatable screen is a recent DVD release.

Obviously when my whole family comes that adds a LOT of people to the attendance sheet.  An amusing commentary on that is that our RSVP notification allowed room to list 5 guests per employee.  I joked with one of my peers at work about which kids don't get to come.  She offered a unique solution ... she signed up to bring my "other" kids (which I am sure looked amusing in the sign-up list).

The weather was absolutely PERFECT for the movie (we've had a lot of rain lately, but none tonight) and the leaders who staffed the various food and face-painting-type booths were all so kind and friendly.

Thanks Progressive for caring about my family and giving me a great chance to show them how awesome my employer is!

Song Of The Day:
I am afraid I may have featured the song "Movies" by Alien Ant Farm in a previous blog post.  That said, I love the tune and it fits with the post today so I guess we'll just have to accept a repeat viewing if that is the case.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Is This The End ?

A little over a month ago, my manager asked for my input on an idea she was considering.  It involved me and a change in work priorities, including a change in team members that would be reporting directly to me.  After a little thought, I saw the benefits of what she was suggesting (benefits for myself, her, the company, the employees involved, etc.) and answered that I would support the changes if they went that way.  She promised to get back with me when a final decision was made.  Off I went, thinking little of it as I went about my regular responsibilities.

Fast forward to a few days ago when she called me into her office.  In a brief conversation, she outlined for me the schedule to actually implement the change we had previously discussed.  It is still a good idea, but it filled me with a very melancholy mindset.

On the plus side, this change will be a great developmental opportunity for me.  I will get the chance to demonstrate my organizational and leadership skills in a way I have not been able to do for many years.  I will learn new skills related to managing a larger team and a process that impacts our business on a much broader scale.  I will have the chance to improve upon things that are already going well, teaching and learning from many different and very smart people.

But ...

On the I'm going to miss this side ... I have many strong relationships with several employees who will no longer be working with me directly.  And they did not choose to have this change happen.  They did not get to share their input and agree to working with a new manager or supervisor.  And I feel some level of guilt or remorse for what seems like an abrupt end to a long-term (for many of them anyway) relationship.  Yes, they will benefit from coaching that is presented in a different style than mine.  Sure, this may help them make improvements that we struggled to make while working together.  But ... they didn't ask for this change, so I feel like I am just dropping them and leaving them to figure things out on their own.

I communicated this change today in our team meeting.  It takes effect on 9/1, so we basically have about a week to "say goodbye."  The reactions from the team were varied, with many I could never have predicted.  Some people are likely relieved (there are a few who may feel I have been unfair ... I am half glad that they will realize it wasn't me being unfair, but rather their poor performance - but I am also sad that their feeling of relief will be short lived).  Some people were a mixture of sad or angry.  Some misunderstood and wished me congratulations, as though I had been promoted.

I myself have not been able to really process how I feel about the change because I have been (and will continue to be) focused on the reactions of those impacted by this change.  I cannot win on all fronts (it's unrealistic to think my relationships will not change basd on this change), but I think my main hope is that my direct reports do not feel abandoned.  To ensure this goal is achieved, I plan to spend the next week almost exclusively with those team members who will be reporting somewhere else as of 9/1.  At the very least, I hope this allows me to find some closure and feel good about their future.

Song Of The Day:
Likely to be lost amidst this lengthy, and very personal, post is an amazing song.  The Boston University Bos-Tones sing about a "Comfortable" relationship between a man and a woman.  While this is not at all the kind of love I have toward my team members, the feelings of missing that comfortable relationship do a great job to capture my emotions around this change.  Despite knowing it is a good change, I think I will long for the comfort within our team for months or even years to come.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

How Is It "Dutch" ?

In light of my recent posts taking on a very "attack the English language" tone, I am avoiding the opportunity here to go into a diatribe about our misuse of the word "dutch" in several applications (such as "going dutch").  Instead, this post is asking an honest question about my chocolate milk.

As you can see in the photo on the left, my recent chocolate milk purchase is clearly marked as not being your average chocolate milk, but instead is a special DUTCH kind of chocolate milk.  This made me think about the recent craze over GREEK yogurt.  So I began assuming there must be some kind of unique quality to this common American beverage.

In my research, I became disappointed when I could find no clear explanation on how this particular chocolate milk was designated as "Dutch."  It does not come from cows who speak (or "moo" in) Dutch.  It is not made with chocolate syrup or powder manufactured in Holland.  In fact, there is no tie in with the language, culture, or geographic location of anything Dutch.

That said, the chocolate milk was very delicious.

Maybe that's why it bothered me to find out that there is no easy explanation for why it was so tasty (other than the listing of ingredients, which clearly suggest the swet and sugary content is much, MUCH higher than "regular" chocolate milk).

Song Of the Day:
The Vengaboys were also not Dutch but their producers were, so their familiar tune "We Like To Party" is the song for today.  You will recognize the song but that is not because it was popular on the radio, instead you can probably picture an older man dancing to the song in ads for Six Flags.  So if you like to party with chocolate milk, make sure it's DUTCH !!!  :)


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Am I An Autopilot ?

I believe we all experience times when we are more or less on autopilot mode: we are physically engaged in an activity but mentally we are existing somewhere else.

I know this happens most often for me on my commute to and from work, but it can often happen in conversations (especially with my kids if I don't actively try to pay attention to them) or when writing emails, etc.

But, in my unique way of looking at things, I started to realize that this word specifically identifies WHO I am multiple times each day.  Not in terms of my lack of active brain activity but in terms of actually piloting an automobile.

Think about it.

A pilot is someone who is directing the path of a vehicle.  Typically a plane, but technically you can "pilot" anything that can be moved.  And auto is just short for automobile.

So every time you drive a vehicle aren't you an "autopilot" ?!

Song Of The Day:
I am always willing to give someone a ride in my car, if they are willing to ride along and happen to be not far out of my planned driving route.  This happens often on Wednesday nights when I routinely give rides to scouts who live in the neighborhood.  I'm already driving myself and my son home so why not invite them to "Come Fly With Me" in my piloted auto.  Yeah, terrible tie in, but a great classic song by Frank Sinatra so just enjoy it.  :)


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How Can A Sense Of Humor Be Dry ?

Short post for a busy day today, but a recent conversation at work got me thinking about the phrase "he/she has a dry sense of humor."

As a point of clarification, is this a compliment or a critique?

Is a normal person's sense of humor more wet?
How do we measure this?
Is that saturation what everyone should aspire to?
Or is the dry person better off?

Just wondering ...

Song Of The Day:
Today's song is "Babylon" by David Gray.  I heard this in a restaurant a few days ago and planned to use it in a more random blog post, since the lyrics and title don't automatically connect this song with a particular subject or post idea.  I hope you enjoy this throwback song that I know I hadn't heard in a long time.


Monday, August 19, 2013

So What Did You Think ?

I am beginning to hate this question.

It has been a tradition for many years for my wife and I to attend the Parade of Homes here in Colorado Springs.  It began shortly after we bought our first home and wanted a way to dream big about what our future "perfect" home might look like.  Then a few years later it started to morph into looking for decorating ideas, including landscape designs.  Lately though, even the decorating ideas are passe for me.  This is only made worse by the presence of the blog title question, which is asked by EVERY person in EVERY home that has any responsibility for the home.

Karen is always nice and polite, with a statement like "oh it's very nice" or just a simple "beautiful" statement.  I am running out of patience to respond so politely and have begun resorting to grunts or head nods and a simple "Thank you."

I am wondering if it might not be better to just lay into the person with a clear critique of the flaws in their designed home.  I don't want to start an argument, but some of these houses have poorly designed areas, and I'm beginning to feel like I owe it to them to point out where these are.  It is a disappointment to love certain elements of the home, only to find glaring mistakes in other areas.

Should I be more blunt?  Are they really seeking my thoughts and opinions?  Or do they prefer the passing "very nice" comments?  Perhaps I should just ask them "Do you want some honest and open feedback or just pleasantries?"  But then, do they actually care considering I will not be buying a home (from them or anyone else) in the next 15-20 or more years?

Maybe I should just stop going.

Song Of The Day:
The song "What Was I Thinkin'?" by Dierks Bentley came to my mind while writing this post.  It applies equally well to the next person who asks me this question and then gets my blunt answer as it does to me for continuing to look at these homes.  As a bonus, his awesome song "Up On The Ridge" can also apply to many of the homes we have been seeing.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

So Is It A Comedy ?

This past Thursday, my older brother Jeremy treated me to a special movie event.
The movie being shown was Starship Troopers ... but this was NOT an original or honorary showing of that film.
Instead it was a merciless mocking of this hollywood blockbuster flop from the genius minds of the Rifftrax crew.

The title question of today's post was overheard as my brother and I sat in the theater anxiously awaiting the fun poking barbs of the Rifftrax crew.  We chuckled to each other when we heard someone ask that question, probably thinking "Rookies!" and acting all smug.  You see, this is the second of what will be MANY movie events Jeremy and I will attend, because we love the mocking of mediocre (or very poor) movies.

You can look up all about Rifftrax at THIS link.  But if you remember a popular TV series titled Mystery Science Theater 3000, then you already know how the movies are ridiculed.  And you also know the level of wit and hilarity you can expect, even in a live event (which these showings are).

My favorite line from this mockery: "You're going to be the worst Bond girl ever.  Seriously!  They're going to call you Christmas Jones!"

Song Of The Day:
In honor of the title movie from this version of Rifftrax, I have selected my favorite song from the 80's group Starship (who actually had several different names).  "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" works for the song today too because these Rifftrax showings keep drawing larger audiences, which is great if you love these kinds of comedic events.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Why Can't I Wear Shorts Anymore ?

There seems to be an age at which a man is no longer allowed to wear shorts in public.  I find this inequality very disturbing.  Think about it for a minute.  Women of almost any age are allowed to show off their legs.  Heavier people are also given the freedom to wear arguably "whatever" they want (if you don't believe me go to a local public pool, or worse - Wal-Mart, and then tell me I'm wrong).  So why are men both privately and publicly discouraged from wearing shorts once they get to a certain age?

I bucked the trend and wore shorts to work today.  They aren't cut-offs or worn out jean shorts.  They are khaki shorts that look just as professional as dress pants ... except for the presence of my sun-starved and naturally hair-covered knees, shins, calves, and lower thighs.

So what do you think?  Is it unfair?  Should I just accept that I can't wear shorts again until I am much closer to retirement?  Or should I try to change the status quo?

Song Of The Day:
I think of the movie "Heart And Souls" with Robert Downey, Jr every time I hear the song "Walk Like A Man" by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.  I feel it works for this post because sometimes you have to sing in a falsetto, girly voice or wear shorts to get your message across.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Early Bedtime ?

This evening I am going to bed early.  Like really early.  Like right after writing this post early.  Yeah, check that time and you'll see I'm talking about before 8:00pm.

This is, of course, a rarity for me, but this is NOT the first time I have prescribed an early bedtime for myself.  Every so often, it becomes evident that my body and brain need a reboot of sorts.  I am hopeful that catching this feeling now and forcing myself to go to sleep when I'm truly tired, will help me avoid the typical migraine that ensues when my brain and body need a reboot.

I suppose only time will tell, but at this moment I am ready to sleep.  I know my wife and I send our kids to bed early when they seem to need it (see: extra grumpy, quick to fight with their siblings, or starting to fall asleep at dinner).  Almost always this works very well and the next day is much better for everyone involved.  I am hoping the same logic applies for me.

Good night!

Song Of The Day:
Because an early bedtime doesn't have to be just for kids, I think lullabies should have to be either.  So Billy Joel can sing me to sleep tonight with his tune "Lullaby" even though it's really not for me.
I also love the song "Lullaby" by my cousin's a capella group Eclipse, and listening to it is a relaxing way to head to sleep.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

What Did You Do ?

Rocky and I went to play golf a few weeks ago.
For the past three days (today included) I have been in all day training classes to learn a new system at work.  I used to look forward to getting paid for training all day, but that has changed as an exempt employee.  So, in order to keep my attention during class (otherwise my brain wanders too much for me to learn), I spent the days finding new ways to play pranks on the Loan In Supervisor (Rocky) I have recently been serving as a mentor for.

Here is a nearly comprehensive list of pranks I played on him over the few days.  Some were easier to achieve, while others took a lot of planning and effort:
- I added paper clips to random places on assorted papers in his table area.  This way, when he went to pull out the next training material he would get extra random pages and be confused as to what page we were on and reviewing.
- I added food to his plate during breakfast and lunch.
- I rearranged his pile of training papers just before he presented information to the class.  This put his responses out of order, but he handled it well.
- I added a large binder clip on pages in his pile of papers, but it was hidden from his view.  So when he picked up a worksheet we were supposed to turn in, the whole pile of papers came crashing off the table.
- I added the same large binder clip to his shirt sleeve.  That one stayed there for well over an hour before he noticed.  Ha ha ha!
- I drew a smiley faced waving guy on his cardboard coffee cup.  Then when he asked me why I did one of the above pranks I just said "He did it." and pointed to him.  You could only see the guy's eyes and hand above the insulated part of the cup.
- I used a glue stick at our table to glue a few of his notepad pages together.  I first did the bottom of the next page, which he tore about an hour later when trying to flip it.  I then did one several pages in that he won't see for about a week probably.
- I filled in the wrong answers on his worksheets.  This led to furious crossing out and rewriting on his part.  And a very difficult time of trying to stifle laughter on my part.
- While seated at the computers I adjusted the height of his chair and the backrest position.  I also moved his armrest heights so they were uneven.  This is more annoying than you might think.
- I responded to IMs (instant messages) for him (his girlfriend and the fitness center manager were very confused, and maybe a little worried by his random responses)
- I made the system skip ahead during phone calls as he was listening to them.  I thought he would recognize this right away but he just thought something was wrong with how the call recorded.
- Based on the above being a minor failure, I stepped it up and unplugged his headphones during call reviews.  That worked much better because he spent a few minutes trying to figure out why he wasn't getting any sound any more.  It was fun asking him to try plugging the headphones in.
- I typed extra keystrokes from the number pad on his keyboard while he was trying to fill out coaching plans and/or replying to emails.  Thank goodness for spell check!

Thanks Rocky for being, mostly, a good sport about all the hazing!  This blog post is in your honor, and titled after the question you began to ask me constantly as the training days wore on!

Song Of The Day:
In honor of Rocky, "Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor ... not just for the movie but for the steely-eyed glare he gave me as he found these different things.  Just like the song, it became more intense as time moved on.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Can Anything Become Boring ?

It seems to me that no matter what work or play or activity a person is involved in, the saying "moderation in all things" should apply ... if only from the standpoint that ANYTHING can become boring if you do it too much.

I love each of the following activities, but they all fit the category of "boring" if I do them too often or for too long in a row:
 - Listening to music
 - Playing a board game (or a sport - even basketball or golf)
 - Answering or auditing phone calls
 - Writing a blog
 - Eating ice cream

It is true when they say "too much of a good thing" can keep you from appreciating it fully.  This is why I worry about retirement.  At that point I will, theoretically, have lots of time on my hands.  But how will I keep enough variety in my routine to keep from becoming bored?  I think this must happen to everyone around retirement time.  I just like to plan ahead if I can.

Song Of The Day:
The video for the song "Everyday" by Dave Matthews Band is a great visual for monotony of repeated activities.  The tune has a very monotonous feel to it as well.  I also like "Everyday" by Phil Collins because it shows how heartache can become boring too.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How Do You Increase Brainstorming Creativity ?

During any brainstorming session it is a proven fact that people will become much more creative when you draw or write the next empty bullet point on a list.  The mere presence of that dot forces a person's brain to come up with things to fill that dot, like a work puzzle that requires you to find the next clue.

This works for To Do Lists or gift ideas or anything really ... try it!

Song Of The Day:
Another great tune from the 90's that I heard recently was "Can't Stop" by
After 7.  It applies here because people can't stop brainstorming when there is an unfilled bullet point on a list.  Boom!


Monday, August 12, 2013

How Can You Be "More Than Welcome" ?!

This phrase, along with others like "more than happy" ... just doesn't make sense.

To be "more than" suggests you begin at a certain place and then proceed further or increase from that starting point.  There is an initial frame of reference and the more than explains the addition or expansion.  This works when you're talking about something like a slice of pie ("Can I get more than she has?") or maybe money ("This should be more than enough to cover the cost.") ... But when you are talking about abstract points of reference, such as "happy" or "welcome" it is just impossible to really apply the more than moniker.

What is more than happy?  Are there units of happiness and "happy" isn't at the top of this chart?

What is more than welcome?  Is there a welcome range where "You're Welcome" is somewhere near the middle of welcomeness?

Just say it so it makes sense.  Please.

Song Of The Day:
I love the country group Little Big Town, but their song "A Little More You" fits in with my question related to this blog post.  How does a person give a little more of themselves?  According to the music video, it seems like they are referring to less clothing ... but that can't be it can it?


Sunday, August 11, 2013

What Is That Game Galled ?

My wife had a birthday a few days ago, which used to mean a birthday party would be held at our home in the next 7-10 days.  But Karen and I agree that we are not big fans of adult birthday parties any more (there's no set age for this, it just felt right to stop for both of us).

Instead, Karen really wanted to have adult family members over to play some large group games and just hang out (no kids allowed).  I was able to coordinate this and tonight we had about 9 adults in our living room and Karen really enjoyed herself.

We played a game we call Shenanigans (I have blogged about it before if you want more details).  And then after a few people had to leave we played another game which we called "Psychiatrist" but I'm not sure what it's actual name is.
The premise is that one person is "it" and they leave the room.  The remaining players decide on a certain theme or ailment they all suffer from (examples from our game would be: every answer includes a number ... or ... everyone will look at the bird cage at some point during their answer ... or ... all answers must include a euphemism for using the bathroom or a toilet reference of some kind).  The "it" person, or Psychiatrist, then re-enters the room and begins questioning his clients to try and identify that common ailment or characteristic.

It is a great game, but some people just do not seem to know how to play it very well.  I suppose it requires a certain level of creativity on the part of the individuals in the group, but after a few rounds I would have guessed that people would get a little better.  Some just didn't.  But then, that probably made it more amusing!

Song Of The Day:
I am certain my cousin Matt, who is a huge Queen fan, will love today's song more than most.  "Play The Game" is referring to love, but the lyrics talk about knowing the rules and finding joy in playing the game, which we certainly did!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Do You Not Know How To Whisper ?

It happens at church.  It happens in libraries.  It happens in doctor's offices.  It happens at work.  It happens in meetings.  It can happen at parties.  It can happen in a small or large group setting.

Some people just don't seem to know how to whisper.

I can forgive this in many different circumstances, but when you are trying to have a private conversation, an improper whisper can ruin it faster than anything else.  It is not a matter of speaking softly or in a lower voice tone, but involves using more breathy speech.  I have found myself on the receiving end of some very embarrassing situations with people who simply cannot whisper.  As a result, there are several people that I avoid talking to whenever there is the potential need for a whispering voice.  If you try to whisper to me and I quickly remove myself from the conversation, take the hint that you are one of the people I am writing about in this post.

If you need help learning this skill or practicing it, just let me know and we'll find a less public situation where you can get better.  Otherwise, I will continue pretending that I cannot hear you.  This is for the good of everyone around us.  Trust me.

Song Of The Day:
I know that I have featured the artist Harry Connick Jr. in this blog before but his song "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name" is just too fitting to pass up here.
Not only is the song awesome, but the volume of the tune demonstrates exactly how NOT to whisper!


Friday, August 9, 2013

Two Things ?

Yesterday evening was Back To School night at the elementary school my middle children attend.  My wife and I were able to visit all of the teachers of our kids together (in previous years we had to split time because we had too many students at the school).  This was very nice, if not a little overwhelming for some of the teachers, who are used to just seeing one of the parents per child.  Two of the teachers had previously taught another one of our kids, so it was fun to update them on the older children's progress in their new school or grade.

My favorite experience was looking at the art outside my second daughter Savannah's classroom.  The children decorated an outline of a body with a variety of things that describe them: favorite word, favorite food, and my favorite - Two Things I Am Good At.

Invariably there were things like singing or playing an instrument, and other activities like sports or video games (one boy filled in every answer on his person as something related to XBox ... I am certain his parents are beaming with pride).

But I could NOT stop laughing when I saw the picture below ...

And ... ?
Clearly, the concept of counting to TWO is not in this child's version of "Math."  Or perhaps their second thing is "not completing assignments."

Song Of The Day:
The Plain White T's did a popular song a few years ago that might be of great use to this child.  It is titled simply "1, 2, 3, 4" and hopefully this student recognizes the pattern in those numbers ... eventually.
This song was also chosen as a shout out to my awesome wife whose birthday is today.  Happy Birthday Karen!  I hope you enjoyed our day together.  I know I did!  :)


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why Won't You Roll Properly ?

Quite a silly post subject, but I want to see if I'm the only one who feels this way.

I have issues when the toilet paper roll doesn't roll smoothly.  It's not crazy OCD, like I have to measure the spin for perfect rotation or anything, but sometimes the roll gets squished or bent and it sort of flops oddly while spinning instead of rolling smoothly.

This bugs me every time it happens!

I have to take the roll off the roller and try to straighten (maybe round out is a more accurate way to describe it) the cardboard roll before using the toilet paper.  This past week, the roll in our master bathroom was severely non-smooth.  Even after I squeezed and pushed and tried to get it to turn properly, it just stayed skeewompus.  I just decided to use another bathroom until the roll was done.

Song Of The Day:
In the early 90's I loved the song "Roll To Me" by Del Amitri.
I'll always remember this song because, at the time, it was the shortest recorded song to make Billboard's Top 20 list.  I think the line "soul so in despair" could easily be replaced in Weird Al fashion with a "roll so in despair."


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What's Your Antitheft Device?

I have blogged many times before about my car.  16 years later and she's still taking me where I need to go every day.  We've been through a lot together.  I am going to be terribly sad when she finally dies and I have to start a new relationship with two tons of metal and plastic.

I have a great, inadvertent antitheft device in my car, which allows me to leave it unlocked all the time.  I could probably even leave the keys in it (which I actually did at work one time on accident ... and they were in the ignition too!) and not have to worry about it being stolen.

My secret weapon?  The lack of 3rd gear in my manual transmission.

You see, at least 7 years ago I noticed that 3rd gear was starting to grind a bit in my car.  Eventually it began to simply "pop out" of gear at random times, so you had to hold it in place.  Finally, it was over and you could not even engage the transmission into 3rd gear.  But this has become a blessing in disguise because pretty much no one can steal my car now.  Well, not steal it and get very far after doing so anyway.  The trick is that you must go from 2nd gear directly into 4th gear, otherwise the clutch will not engage properly.  Any attempt to go into 3rd gear will automatically "reset" the clutch.  It refuses to engage in any gear (except 1st gear) once this action occurs.

So I figure, any thief of my car is going to make the mistake of trying to use 3rd gear.  Then, when it will not engage, they will try to shift into 2nd or 4th gear, only to have those not work either.  If by some miracle, they coast to a stop and try to go through the gears again, it is almost guaranteed that they will try 3rd gear a second time.  After all, who would keep a car if 3rd gear didn't work, right?!

ME!  That's who!  And I will not even have to walk at a brisk pace to catch up with any thief driving my vehicle.   I figure 1-2 minutes down the road they will just decide it's time to give up. And when they exit the car, there I'll be standing there with a  "U mad bro?" look on my face.

Song Of The Day:
The song "Taylor" by Jack Johnson may not see an appropriate fit here, but ... there is a line in the song that goes like this: "Sometimes he thinks that he's on his way, but I can see ... that his brake lights are on."  Anyone who tries to steal my car will see me in the rear view mirror calmly walking to catch up with them.  Silly thief, you're not on your way.  My car is like Herbie.  She knows me!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What Is The Appropriate Response?

I cannot be the only person to have experienced this in my life.  At least I hope not.
I am seriously asking this question, even if, as you read on, you may perceive my tone as sarcastic or silly.  I really want to know because it is awkward and I always feel stupid after it happens.

Picture yourself in a public restroom.  There you are "taking care of business" when all of a sudden you hear a knock on the bathroom door, followed by a voice saying something like "Is anyone in there?" or worse, just a simple "Hello?"  Presumably this is someone from the janitorial staff and they have chosen this moment to clean the restroom you happen to be using right now.

So what do you say?

I'm here.


Heeeeeeyyyyyyyyyy ...

El baƱo es ... occupado?

I honestly never know, so my response is usually a combination of grunts or jumbled words that I am hoping the custodian recognizes as not normal sounds from a bathroom faucet, toilet, urinal, sink, or paper towel dispenser.  But the worst part is having to walk out after this awkward conversation.  Often the cleaner is just standing there waiting, and
what are you supposed to say then?

Thanks for letting me finish.

Um, that soapy mess by the right sink was there when I came in.

Sup (followed by an upward head nod)

Clean up on stall 3.

Song Of The Day:
As I wrote this post, my twisted sense of humor came up with the tune
"More Than Words" by Extreme for today's song.
I think perhaps the best answer to the title question of this blog may actually involve using more than words to respond to the custodian's question.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Why Even Get A Truck?

About a week ago, while on my commute home from work, I noticed an odd looking vehicle up ahead.   I sped up a little to get a closer look and upon further review I realized it was a truck ... well ... sort of a truck.   You see, it had an extended cab (4 doors) and a short bed (the back of the truck).   This was odd enough (my explanation of this is below) but it was compounded by the fact that the bed was also a step-side or "skinny" bed.  This means the bed was only as wide as the inside of the wheel wells.  Combined with the extended cab and the short bed, I found myself wondering the title to this blog post.

This is NOT the truck I saw, but it looks similar ...
except that the bed here is NOT a true short bed.
I really want to own a truck some day.  Not a fancy one mind you.  My description of the perfect truck is "one you could throw rocks at."  I think I wrote a blog on that a while back.  Anyway, my reason for having a truck would be to do truck-like things: tow boats or trailers, load and haul building materials, help people move large items of furniture, etc.  The very concept of a truck suggests these kinds of a activities.  These are activities you cannot really do with a short bed or a skinny bed.  And then why do you want or need extra seating in your truck?  How many people do you need with you to carry the 4 bags of groceries you can fit in that short bed?

This "truck" had such a small bed that I doubt you could even fit a washing machine or small rocking chair in it.  So why on earth would you want a "truck" instead of just a suburban or bigger van?

Song Of The Day:
There is (of course) a country song that is perfectly suited for this post.  It is titled "That Ain't My Truck" and is sung by Rhett Atkins.  It is a lost love song, but that title describes how I felt when I saw this one.  My truck, when I ever get one, will NOT have an extended cab and a short bed, if anything those two will be reversed!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Didn't We Almost Buy That House?

Another reflective post for that most reflective of all days.  I often find myself driving past homes here in Colorado Springs that my wife and I visited at some point when we were looking to buy a home.  We have owned three homes in this area, including our current Case Place, but we have looked at and even seriously considered buying dozens of other houses.

When I drive past these houses it always makes me think: how would life have been different if we had bought that home instead of the one we ended up in (at that time)?

I am happy to say that life has turned out great based on the homes we did eventually purchase, live in, and then sell to another new home owner for them to gain some life experience in the house.  But who's to say that it wouldn't have been equally good if we had ended up in these other homes?

I do believe that the Lord looks out for his children and I am certain we had experiences that we needed to have as a result of choosing the right home(s) to purchase at the times we did buy them.  In fact some of our best friendships and unique family blessings have come as a direct result of the home(s) we purchased and lived in.

Song Of The Day:
The song "Home" by the Dixie Chicks is actually a sad, lost love kind of song.  But in this case I am using it to highlight the opposite emotion: gratitude and appreciation for having a great home!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Who Is This ?

That is what I texted back to my sister-in-law this evening ... on my wife's phone.

Thankfully, Erin was not offended (I think my follow up text message of "just kidding" probably helped).  She and my younger brother Jordan came over to play games a few hours later and we had an absolute blast!

They taught us a new game, which I loved (even though Erin beat us after I had a HUGE lead).  The game is called Dicecapades and involves trivia, physical challenges, and of course the rolling (or stacking) of dozens of different kinds of dice.  The questions and activities led to some very entertaining conversation and my sides ached from laughter when all was said and done.

I'm grateful for my extended family and the opportunities that I have to spend time with them when we get the kids to bed.

Song Of The Day:
For today I have chosen the song "Man Of Constant Sorrow" (from the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou?") because part of our conversation this evening centered around long road trips we could take together as a group (their family of 2 and our family of 9).  Oh the fun we would have and the trouble we would get into (and then out of with our good looks and smooth talking, of course!)


Friday, August 2, 2013

A, B, C, or D ?

That was what my wife responded with shortly after I asked her the inevitable question "What do you wanna do tonight?"

I chose "C" ... which led to a viewing of probably my favorite romantic comedy of all time: Two Weeks Notice.  The movie stars Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock, and their chemistry throughout the film is just so enjoyable.  But the best part are Hugh Grants' character's lines.  His character is unintentonally pompous but is also so witty with such a dry sense of humor that I just love hearing his commentary on the different situations he finds himself in.  The BEST example of his character and his BEST line in the movie is depicted in the image below.

After a challenging day for both Karen and I, this old favorite movie ended up being just the right medicine for easing away tension and stress.
And the Song Of The Day is from the soundtrack to that movie.

"Love Is A Beautiful Thing" by the amazing Al Green seems as though it was written specifically for this film.  The lyrics, the catchy rhythm, and even the video itself speak of the power that love has to change everything.  I hope you enjoy it as much as Al himself seems to be enjoying it in the video!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

How Do You Get You Chin Back?

While feeling my 'scratchy' goatee with her little fingers, my youngest daughter Myra asked me that blog post title question this morning.  Of course I laughed and then tried to have a logical discussion with her about how my chin was still there underneath the whiskers.  Silly daddy, you can't reason with a 3-year old!

She is obsessed with my facial hair and often tells me to 'shave it off' or 'grow it back' ... but the most amusing thing is that she actually means the opposite thing when she says this.  Like today, she wants me to grow back my chin and when she tells me to "shave you beard back" she means grow it out so it is longer or more full.  It has taken me about a year to figure that out.

Man I love that kiddo!  :)

Song Of The Day:
People often say that daughters have their daddies wrapped around their little fingers, but I think the title of Garth Brooks' tune "Wrapped Up In You" describes my feelings better.  My little Myra still shouts "Daddy, you home!" whenever I come walking in the door.  I love it when she wants to wrap her little arms and legs around me in a hug.  I love all four of my daughters and they will all eventually find out how much I want to just hug them and hold them all the time!