Friday, February 28, 2014

Are You Socially Inept or Just Drunk?

First Denver Nuggets game experience - Post #3

The saddest part of my first NBA game experience was the idiots (and I am not exaggerating) seated behind Aaron and I.

Beyond the vulgarity (pick your favorite reference for bad language ... it was even worse than that!), name-calling (see: bad sportmanship), and general boorish (loud, obnoxious, abusive, insensitive, constant, etc.) behavior, the one fool just loved to whistle ... loudly ... about everything ... so loudly I literally lost hearing for a brief period of time.  This was temporarily stopped after Aaron was recognized on the court, but it didn't last very long.

How can you believe that spending money on a ticket into the arena to watch the game justifies you behaving in such an inappropriate manner?
No amount of personal wealth or value should excuse bad behavior in any circumstance.  Period.

The view from our seats was amazing!
This picture isn't zoomed in at all.
Aaron and I spoke about how incredibly blessed we felt to have the experience we did (sitting where we did, enjoying the game, feeling the excitement of his "celebrity" moment, free parking, etc.).
We contemplated the possibility of this kind of cool experience in heaven.  How great it would be for everyone to get a chance to experience that?  How blessed and special can you feel?

But this yahoo behind us seemed incapable of recognizing what a great experience this was.  He seemed angry, mad, discontent, like he deserved more.  Hence the title of this blog post.  I surely hope that is not his outlook on life in general or it must be a sad foreseeable future for him indeed.

Song Of the Day:
I prefer to put a silver lining on dark clouds or find the positive in negative or bad situations.  With that in mind, here is "The Fishin' Hole" composed by Earle Hagen and Herbert W Spencer.  While you'll immediately recognize the tune with it's iconic whistling, you likely don't know that Fred Lowery is the whistler behind the tune.  Rather than being aggravating and damaging to one's ears, whistling can be quite beautiful and calming.  I prefer to think about that instead.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

What's With All The Swag ?

First Denver Nuggets game experience - Post #2

Short belated post here, with more focus on the swag Aaron and I received at our visit to the Nuggets game in late February.

On the right is a picture of the items we received, free of charge, as part of his redeemed package as the Hometown Hero for that night's game.  Each ticket included a $25 credit to merchandise or food in the arena (I "saved" the credit on my ticket so Aaron could use it to buy stuff for his kids ... after all, it wasn't really "mine" to begin with).

I did not have the forethought to take a photo of the Hometown Hero chair covers that were on our seats, and sadly I cannot find an online photo either.  Sorry.

Song Of The Day:
Often played more on the radio around Christmastime, the song "The Gift" by Jim Brickman isn't really specific to any holiday (although it does reference winter snow falling down).  I think these "gifts" (or swag to use more current terminology) are a great tie in for a good song.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why Don't You Come Watch Me Play More Often ?

Tonight was the final game in our church basketball league.  It just so happened to be the equivalent of a Championship Game (we abolished an actual playoff years ago when things got too competitive).  Our opponents had gone undefeated for their season, and were clearly the better team all year.  With youth, precision passing, unselfish play, and swarming defense on their side it was even fun losing to them.  And they were our only loss this season, so we were relatively clearly the next best team.

Tonight was unique for two reasons:
First, our team only had 5 (five) guys show up to play: Trent VanDenberge, Kyle Ambrose, Dustin Larsen, Mark Puhlman, and myself.  I was our center, standing at roughly six feet nothing (I am aging so it's probably closer to 5'11" nowadays.  (The other team had 10 guys so they were subbing constantly and running us ragged).
Second, my parents were in town from Arizona and despite the 10:00pm start time, they came out to cheer on their son.

I'll skip to the end of the game because it's late and I'm exhausted, but suffice it to say that we only lost by 2 points: 79 to 77.  I was so proud of my teammates who hit clutch shot after clutch shot and never gave up hope that we could win.

My dad, ever being the statistician, kept my "line" for the night and I am very grateful because it was arguably my best game ever.  37 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, and only 2 turnovers.  My favorite shot was a running three pointer from just beyond half court that beat the buzzer in the first half, tying the game at 38 apiece.

So in honor of my awesome parents, whose presence always seems to coincide with my best games, I pose today's blog post title question.  :)
Love you mom and dad!

Song Of The Day:
I've recently become quite a fan of Imagine Dragons (thanks Jordan for suggesting them!) and their newest song "On Top Of The World" is fantastic!  It describes how I am feeling this evening and is a great tune to end the day on.  Thanks again to all of my teammates (and competitors) tonight!  That was the most fun I've had in a long time playing basketball!  Y'all are fantastic friends and everything that is right with semi-competitive sports!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Are You Nervous ?

Tonight I was privileged to attend my first ever NBA game with a great friend of mine, Aaron Summers.  This is the first of several posts inspired by events prior to, during, and after the game.

Aaron redeemed some points that he had earned (ask him if you want more details 'cause I barely understood how it all worked out) to score two great seats to the Nuggets vs Trail Blazers game tonight.  It wasn't until after we were at the game and the section attendant had asked Aaron the title question of today's blog that we both realized what was in store.  It also wasn't until after that question that Aaron shared with me lots of little details which clued me in that I was sitting next to a celebrity (for at least that night).

So linked here below is the video of Aaron standing respectfully on the Nuggets home court while tens of thousands of fans cheered and revered him for his military service.  It was awesome to see and be a part of!  (Apologies that the video starts so abruptly.  There was little warning that this was starting so I began recording as fast as I could.)

Special Video Presentation:  Aaron at Center Court

Aaron and I had some fun conversation after the experience, talking about how awkward it can be to be the center of attention.  And not just that, but specifically how awkward it can feel to be recognized for military service, when you know people are cheering just as much for what you represent as they are for you individually.  It is an odd mixture of pride and unworthiness.  I was proud that Aaron handled the whole spectacle so well, but I cannot imagine what that would be like.

Song Of The Day:
In honor of Aaron I have chosen "God Bless The USA" for today's post.  Lee Greenwood first sang the song decades ago (and I still remember singing it in grade school in the 80's).  The lyrics "and I'd gladly stand up, next to you, and defend her still today" came to my mind as I enjoyed the amazing spirit of appreciation and connection while Aaron was on the court.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Doesn't My Wife Deserve A Nice Shoe Rack ?

Among my many hobbies is an interest in making things out of wood.  I can't carve or whittle, but if it is made of wood, and of relatively basic construction, I am reasonably confident I can re-create it.  I also, often, have my own ideas on things I would like to own, but would rather build them myself than spend time and money looking for something that meets my vision.

This is my original shoe rack which I made
about 3 years ago (just from scrap wood)
An example is the picture on the right.  I was tired of the pile of my footwear cluttering the corner of our closet.  So shortly after we moved into this house, I crafted my own shoe rack to fit into the space available.

Whenever I am making a project for the first time, I use leftover materials, rather than nicer wood, so there is vitually no cost.  This allows me to forgive myself too, if the project doesn't turn out.  Mistakes in pieces of left over scrap wood are not worth being sad over.

Once I "know what I'm doing" I'll use better wood, even purchasing specific styles or pieces to achieve a desired look or design.

An example of this would be the shoe rack I made this past week for Karen (pictured below).  Some of the wood was "hand me downs" from my dad's workshop, but they were certainly not scraps and worked perfectly into the design and space I had available.

This is the 90% finished shoe rack I made for Karen.
The design has improved and obviously she has more shoes.

My next project is a trash can holder for the dining room and kitchen.  I made one out of MDF before, which didn't take long to break down.  But that's okay because it was my test project.  I am finally ready to make a long-lasting one, with some nice wood that I also salvaged from my dad's stock.  Thanks old man!  :)

Song Of The Day:
What better song than "Knock On Wood" by Amii Stewart for this wood-themed post?  I'm a big time hater of most 70's or disco music ... but some tunes are just too good even with that terrible tie in.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

What Do You Mean By "Master" ?

This past week, I experienced another "when did I get to be this old?" moment: High School Orientation for my oldest son Josh Jr.  It feels like no small coincidence that this very year is my 20-year high school graduation reunion.  A double dose of feeling my age: boom, BOOM!

But today's post isn't about being old.  Instead it is based on the picture I took below.

It is harder to read than I hoped, but the last line of the class description says:
"Students will master golf, racquet sports, ping pong, archery ..."
So the sign up process for classes seems much more streamlined than when I went to high school, but that much should probably be expected.  I was reasonably impressed by the different elective options that Josh Jr has for consideration through these next four years.  Even I wanted to sign up for some of the classes!

What I am not a fan of is the misleading verbiage that was used in the picture above.  I'm all about life-long physical fitness and learning the rules and gaining experience participating in different sporting activities.  But let's carefully consider whether it is appropriate to promise that students will master these various games.  You may master some of the skills.  You may master the terminology and regulations.  But come on?!  If you could "master" these sports through this class, don't you think everyone would be taking it?!  Even professional (see: paid lots of money for playing their sports) athletes aren't "masters" of their disciplines.  To be a "Master" is to perform even further beyond professionals.  It is the pinnacle.  The top.  The best of the best of the best.

It already feels like it's going to be a LOOOOOONG four years!

Song Of The Day:
It's been far too long since I featured a song by my favorite group: OMD.  One of their more popular songs from the 80's was "Dreaming" and it fits today because ... this instructor is only dreaming if they think high school students will master these sports in a single class, let alone a single semester!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

How Do You Spend Your Tax Refund ?

Just a few weeks ago I buckled down and completed that annual ritual of doing taxes.  In all of my years of paying taxes, I have never owed money when filing my taxes, so there should be no reason to hesitate on doing them.  Some years the refund has been meager, and other times the amount has been so large that I seriously questioned it's *accuracy.
Regardless of the size of the refund, the other annual ritual is the discussion around what do we do with the money.
*I am a die hard TurboTax fan, so it's hard to question accuracy unless I willfully chose to answer a question wrong or skip a section ... and I never do, so there's virtually 0% chance of error.

Some years, the money has already been spent (usually these are the meager years).  These are sad days indeed.
Some years, the money has all been put into savings (for a house downpayment, or a newer car, or kids' mission funds).
Some years, the money has been spent frivilously (family or couple's vacation, or a new car that we didn't really need).
And in some years, the money has been invested in something practical and useful (payment of additional principal on the house, purchases of carpet or furniture or landscaping materials, etc.)

This year's refund has been earmarked for savings towards future upcoming costs (braces, new flooring, newer car, etc.) but the discussion certainly isn't over on what it will be spent on.  In fact, this very year, we began what will likely be a multi-year discussion over financial decisions we have been making recently and want to continue making going forward.  It's a good, healthy discussion, but that doesn't mean it is always fun.

Sometimes in life, you have to sacrifice what you want or what sounds good right now, for what you know is right or good for you, and your family, in the long term.  I am grateful to have married a wonderful wife who not only understands that concept, but helps ME remember it when I get a little too short-sighted.  A family vacation to the happiest place on earth sure would be nice, but it's not the right time.  Sad face, but I'll be glad we chose more prudently in the long run.

Whatever your tax season brings you, I hope you can enjoy whatever decision you make now and can also feel good about that decision years later!

Song Of the Day:
There are almost as many songs about money as there are options for how to spend it.  Today's post is accompanied by Jessie J's tune "Price Tag" which features B.o.B.  I like the beat, but one portion of the lyrics feels very applicable here.  Why is everybody so obsessed?  Money can't buy us happiness.  Can we all slow down and enjoy right now.  Guarantee we'll be feelin' alright.

There is a quote by Tony Robbins which states "Nothing you get will ever make you happy ... nothing.  But, who you become will make you very happy or very sad."  Those are wise words to keep in mind as you choose your tax refund's final destination.


Friday, February 21, 2014

So What Do You Think ?

Some questions come fully loaded without much advance notice.  This seems to be especially true depending on who is asking the question.

Exhibit A:  Where's Myra?
This question is harmless when being asked by any of her siblings in virtually any scenario around our house.
This question is frightening when I asked it this evening at a "bring your kids to work for a movie night" event.

Exhibit B:  Who Is That?
Again, often used to simply clarify a person's name or other information about them.  A very useful question and one that raises little concern, unless ...
That question being asked by a girlfriend or wife when looking at pictures of their boyfriend or husband with some other woman is nothing short of condemnation.

Exhibit C:  So What Do You Think?
I can think of hundreds of scenarios where this is a nice, open ended invitation to share my thoughts on whatever subject is being discussed, BUT ...
Put me in a conversation with my boss, where a major "change" is being proposed, and I become VERY uneasy about openly speaking my mind on the subject.

Song Of The Day:
Change often brings about feelings of uneasiness.  For me these are mostly because I am lacking confidence in a new or different area. You would think that the confidence of others in me would provide strength and support, but instead they sometimes make me feel even more nervous.  Good music calms those fears though, so here's "Cruisin' " by Marc Antoine (one of my favorite jazz guitarists).


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Out Of Control ?

One of the many titles I currently maintain is that of Physical Activities Director.  This is limited to church-related activities in our Stake (geographical boundary) here in Colorado Springs.

Perhaps the main responsibility I have in this role is to coordinate and supervise over the Men's Church Basketball season.  It certainly is the activity that requires the largest time commitment from me, but I rather enjoy it.

All of that is just background information to set the stage for today's story.

Yesterday evening, I reiterated a few rules and reminders for both teams prior to both games being played.  I specifically asked the brethren to watch their emotions and intensity during the game.  I further encouraged them to remove themselves from the game if they found their emotions running high.  This was brought on by an incident last week, which was the result of two players NOT controlling their anger.

Fast forward to the last 10 minutes of our basketball game, which was intense and had a close score.  One of my teammates grumbled as he headed to the bench during a timeout "I'd better sit down or I'm going to punch somebody."  Recognizing that he was trying to stop a bad situation from becoming worse, I put my hand on his shoulder and said "I appreciate you choosing to sit for a bit.  Thanks."

His response stunned me.

He pushed my hand away and snapped back with "DON'T!  Just DON'T!  I don't need your appreciation so just shut up!"

After reflecting on this, I have come to the conclusion that he really made the right decision to sit out the rest of the game.
If you're so upset that you will get angry at a teammate when he is complimenting you then you're clearly too out of control to be playing basketball!

Song Of The Day:
Although it is more of an anthem, I thought of Eminem's award-winning song "Lose Yourself" when writing this post.  I think the line "you own it, you've got to never let it go" is appropriate for this brother who seemed to realize he shouldn't be playing any more that night.  Also, we hung on to win the game by one point in overtime so I guess that ties in too.  :)


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What Foul ?!

It usually only takes one or two pick-up games with someone before you can tell their Basketball Personality type.  There are dozens of different types, but only two that I simply cannot play with: the "I never foul anyone" guy ... and ... the "elbows, knees, and cheap shots" guy.  Often, these two descriptions fit the same person.

The problem with the "I never foul anyone" guy is that he gets fouled EVERY time he misses, whether there is anyone NEAR him or not.  And then, when he leaves a recognizable hand-print on your arm, (from where he slapped you so hard it could be heard inside another gym miles away) and you call a foul (because he NEVER will), the look on his face is sheer incredulousness.  That guy makes me want to respond in kind ... so instead, I usually just stop playing until his team is off the floor.

For those who said I was just acting hurt,
here is the bruise picture proof
that I did, in fact, get fouled (elbowed) HARD!
The problem with the "elbows, knees, and cheap shots" guy is that he misunderstands the concept of basketball being a "non-contact sport."  Of course it's not entirely non-contact.  It can't be.  But that doesn't mean that you should swing all the way to the other end of the spectrum and ensure contact at every opportunity!  This is the guy who sticks his knee out when you get past him on a drive to the hoop.  Or the guy who never learned how to play proper defense.  So when your back is turned to him, his immediate response is to initiate the kind of spooning that should be reserved for married couples in the privacy of their own bedroom.  He also lives by the motto "nothing easy" which means it's going to hurt if you plan to shoot or score.

When either of these guys shows up while I am playing basketball, I quickly change defensive assignments or, if necessary, stop playing entirely.  It's just better that way.

Song Of The Day:
Every time I call a foul and someone complains about it I wish there was a huge stereo that would immediately break into the chorus from the song "Would I Lie To You?" by Charles and Eddie.  Can't we all just accept each other's calls?


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Is There No Other Way ?

This is a picture post.

Sadly, there is no "before" picture, so you'll just have to imagine one.

My car is a 1997 model year, which means she's old.  Over the years, whatever glue was used to originally affix the gray cloth to the foam backing on the ceiling of my car has lost the ability to keep it together.  Thus, I began employing several taping techniques to prolong the inevitable.

This is the "inevitable" ...
a short while back I had to cut and peel the cloth
off my car's ceiling.  And yes, those stickers were
collected over several years.  Thanks kids!

Song Of The Day:
Oddly enough, it was just the front and back of the cloth that came loose.
The fabric on the sides of the car stayed strong.
This is my weak tie in to the song "On The Wing" by MeninDrag a capella (from the University of Chicago).  What's the tie in you ask?  I don't rightly know.  But I like the song and it sounds a little wind related.

I said it was a weak tie in!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Who's Staying Home ?

When you have seven kids, the odds are much higher that on any given Sunday at least one of them will be ill and/or need to stay home from church.

When you and your spouse both have callings (responsibilities at church) it can greatly complicate the otherwise simple discussion about who is staying home to tend to said sick or otherwise needy child.

This is when it becomes very convenient to have the rest of the other seven kids!

A picture of Spencer from his
birthday a few months ago.
He looks sad like this when he's sick.
Yesterday poor Spencer (14 months old) was the "sick" kid and both of us parents had responsibilities during the 3rd hour of church (I was teaching the lesson to our Deacon's Quorum, while Karen was conducting for the Relief Society).

Enter "compromise" and "cooperation" ...
and Brooklyn.  :)

I stayed home with Spencer during Sacrament meeting while Karen took the other kids and then helped Catalina give her talk in Primary.  Immediately after that, Karen brought Brooklyn home with her to watch Spencer.  Karen and I then headed back to church (so glad it is only about 5 minutes away now that Dublin connects to Peterson) for our respective responsibilities.

I just wonder how other families deal with the "who's staying home?" dilemma.  Does one parent always trump the other?  Does everyone just take turns?  Is it based on who is feeling the need to go to church that day?  Or are there other factors I'm not considering?

Song Of The Day:
On a sad note, yesterday afternevening we received the very sad news that the daughter and sister of one of the families in our ward had passed away.  She has been in the news here in the Springs and in Utah, where she suffered a fatal blow at the hands of an avalanche.  My heart weeps for her loving family, which includes a young man about my oldest son's age who I have worked with for years in Boy Scouts and other church related venues.
Today's song is "It's Not Heavy" which comes from the Batdorf and McLean CD titled Look Inside.  Sady the version I have linked above only has the first 3 minutes of the song (I'll have to upload my own video later because this one gets cut off before the inspirational conclusion to the song).  The burden of a lost loved one would make anyone's heart heavy, but through our Savior Jesus Christ we can have those feelings of sadness replaced with the joy of knowing that we will see that loved one again.  This is the most important part of our Heavenly Father's plan!  And I am so grateful for my knowledge that this family is sealed together for time and all eternity through God's Priesthood power and their Temple Marriage.  Tears will still flow and the days will be difficult, but in the eternal scheme of things I know this family knows they will see their beloved daughter and sister again.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Are You Even Ready To Move ?

If you've never been asked to help someone move then you're either very young, don't have a truck or vehicle big enough to assist, or ... you need to get out more.

Most often when I am asked to help someone with a move, it is at church.  I would suspect Mormons move just as often as any other religious group, but I have no point of reference to compare it against.  Generally these moves involve either loading or unloading a moving truck at a location within the ward's (congregation) geographic boundaries.  On a few occasions these moves have involved loading and unloading the same family (most often they are staying in the ward in these situations).  You would think that would be the most frustrating part of helping someone move, but for me it isn't.  Not even close.

I am quite content to load and unload a moving truck.  I'll drive the whole thing to and from the old and new locations multiple times if that's what it takes.  I don't even mind loading someone's smaller or more fragile items in my own car to drive them to the new location.

But I HATE helping people actually pack for their move.

I'm not talking about packing "the truck" with boxes and totes and assorted pieces of furniture.  I'm talking about actually "packing" their stuff into boxes or totes or dismantling assorted pieces of furniture.

Packing a truck is like a big jigsaw puzzle or Tetris game.  It's kind of fun and rewarding to see how much you can fit in such a comparatively small space.  But there is NOTHING fun about touching other people's stuff and putting it in boxes that then need to be moved to the truck.  It's actually just flat out rude to expect others to be willing to help with that.  So much so that it is the only time I will leave before the job is done.  In fact, the last move I helped with was like that.  So I offered assistance with a washer and dryer, a fridge and couches and beds ... and then I quietly walked away while others began loading boxes with the family's stuff.

Song Of The Day:
Made popular in the Madagascar franchise of movies, the song "Move It" comes to mind as I write this post.  I do indeed like to move it move it when it comes to loading a truck.  I am physically fit, physically fit and will exhaust almost all of my energy to help you move ... but I ain't packing your stuff for you!



Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Blessing Or A Curse ?

One of my responsibilities at work is to interview new hire candidates for entry sales positions.  These interviews follow a standard format, and we interviewers use the same packet of questions for each candidate.  The mix of questions vary a little with each interview, but the Dimensions (or skill areas) being identified are exactly the same.

A short while back, I had filled out the front of one of these interview packets with the basic information (candidate name, interviewer name, and date of interview) in anticipation of an upcoming interview.  The day of the interview came and I set my interview folder out on my desk.  Then the time for the interview came and there was no call from Security (they always call to inform us that the candidate is here).  The candidate was a no-show.

The following week I had another interview scheduled, so not wanting to waste paper and printer ink, I just crossed out the candidate name and date of interview, writing the new information to the side in each category.  The evening before that interview, I received an email informing me that the candidate had withdrawn their application.

I had no interview the next week, so the packet just sat in my interview folder until my next interview was scheduled.  Once again, I crossed out the name and date, replacing them with the newer candidate information.  By now, the space for writing was becoming limited on the front of the packet.  About an hour before the interview was to take place, I received a call from one of our recruiters who informed me that the candidate had called to reschedule their interview.

Okay, now it was getting a little weird.

You see, in between these cancelled or rescheduled interviews, I had still conducted other new hire interviews.  There are two different packets to use, depending on whether you are the first or second interviewer, and I had been using the other version for my other interviews.  Still, I thought my streak of cancelled or rescheduled interviews was a little silly to connect with this packet of paper and scribbled out names and dates.

That is, until the next interview I planned to use it on.

Once again I scratched out the name and date of the prior candidate's slot and wrote in the new date and candidate name, which was now all the way in the margin of the packet.  I told my interview partner about the mysterious streak of "did not happen" interviews and she commented that she would be fine if the streak continued that day because she was really behind on other work.  Fast forward to the time of the interview and my office phone rings.  It was the security desk calling to inform me that the candidate was here.  Okay, the streak is over.  I broke the news to my interview partner and headed to the lobby.

Shortly after extending my hand to greet the candidate, he confirmed my name and then immediately apologized and said he had to leave.  I asked if he wanted me to reschedule his interview and he said yes, while frantically glancing at his cell phone.  He then informed me that he just found out his daughter had been in a serious car accident so he had to go.  I wished him well and then headed back to my desk.

My interview partner was surprised to see me back so soon and asked if everything was all right.  I pulled out the interview packet and said "This packet must go.  People are getting hurt now.  It's not fun and games anymore."  I then explained the candidate's need to leave urgently and my interview partner stood there in awe.

So now I am left wondering ... should I keep the packet and re-use it?  Or is it dangerous and should be disposed of?  I won't complain about getting an hour back in my day for cancelled interviews, but not if someone is getting injured to make it happen!
*Clarification: I have since used this interview packet and the candidate was not harmed nor did they miss their interview time.  I cannot say whether they were hired or not, but the packet is now used and will no longer threaten anyone's safety.

Song Of The Day:
It is Thursday, so here's a Throwback song from the Clash.  "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" isn't about interviewing people, but the question can loosely be tied to my dilemma with using the packet again and again.