Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why Is It More Difficult ?

I like having organization and cleanliness probably more than the average person.  I have some OCD tendencies (don't we all?!) but mostly I just like things to be in order.  Clutter is distracting and decreases efficiency.  This is applicable not just in physical spaces but also in the virtual world as well.  In this post, I am talking specifically about electronic items such as pictures, emails, documents, music, and any other type of file you can conveniently save on your computer or electronic device.

We live in a day and age when the available space for saving electronic information is virtually limitless.  Even our phones (I hear they can actually be used to make calls too now!) have capacity to store documents or files that just a few years ago would have taken a whole hard drive to "keep" around.

I think most everyone de-clutters their physical space reasonably often (Spring Cleaning is in full swing around the office and at home for me), but when was the last time you de-cluttered your "virtual" space(s)?  How many pictures are saved on your computer or phone?  How many emails have you moved over to a folder or a longer storage program like OneNote?  How many Apps have you loaded on your smart phone that haven't been used in months?  How many spreadsheets and presentations and word documents have you saved to a u:drive or w:drive that are collecting "virtual" dust?  For me, the amount of files and documents is staggering and overwhelming.

As I have recently undertaken the effort of clearing the clutter, it has become very apparent to me that I am MUCH better at cleaning physical spaces than virtual ones.  For all the convenience of finding various types of documents on a computer, it is infinitely more time consuming to throw out whole piles of files from the variety of programs they are saved under, than to just toss a stack of papers from a desk file.  It is also not nearly as rewarding afterward because you cannot actually see the progress you made.  And THAT is why I think it is more difficult for me to complete!

Song Of The Day:
I've been a James Taylor fan for many years, especially thanks to my mother's playing his records during our family's "quiet times" each afternoon.  But I cannot recall hearing his version of "Paper Moon" until perhaps a year ago on a local easy listening station.  I immediately loved it!  I chose it for today's post because I think we consider our electronic device storage space to be a bit of make believe although it surely isn't.  Also, I just really dig the relaxing vibe of this tune and after spending hours de-cluttering an "e-space" it brings back my sanity!  :)


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When Did This Happen ?

Yesterday my oldest son was joking around with my wife and he climbed up in her lap, as if to act like a little baby.
Only he's clearly not so "little" any longer!
I think Karen quickly regretted his decision to effectively squish her, but I know she remembers holding him shortly after giving birth to him as though it were yesterday.

I am quite proud of the young man my oldest son is becoming / has turned out to be.  Sure he has his moments of malice or moodiness, but overall he is a very good example of what a young man and future adult should be.
In fact, the oldest daughter from one of our "friend families" recently commented that she could tell he was being raised up right ... if he were a few years older ... and then they commentary trailed off (but you could tell it was a reference to his dateability).

Song Of The Day:
It only seems appropriate for a Boyz II Men tune, since my oldest is clearly making that progression very quickly.  Their earliest BIG hit was titled "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday" and seemed to be played at every high school graduation for years after its release.  It has also become a standard of a Capella music.  Great tune for a great young man!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

You're Just Playing Dumb, Right ?

I think some people really just need to be told the absolute truth.  I know the button to the left seems harsh or unnecessarily mean, but it is very true sometimes.  I have literally worried about how people survive (pay bills, feed themselves, get from here to there, etc.) when they have difficulty with other, seemingly basic concepts.  A few examples would include: reading and responding to emails at work; using a "smart" phone to take notes; filling out a time card sheet to get paid; and even learning how to latch a seat belt.

I know it is terribly judgmental of me, but it is with true concern for these people and their well-being, not mockery or picking on them that drives my reaction.  I fear that they are actually suffering (outside of times when others are around them), with the basics of living, and that pains me.  I secretly hope they are just "playing dumb" if only because it relieves me from the sad visualization that they go hungry at night because they cannot comprehend how to make a stove or microwave function.

Song Of The Day:
The song "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette is a vengeful and angry tune, but the title fits with today's post because people oughta know these basic life skills and it worries me when they don't.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

But How Much Are A Thousand Words Worth ?

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  I get how that makes sense, because almost any picture could easily be expanded into a thousand, or more, words that would describe what it portrays.

But how much are 1,000 words worth?  Perhaps the exchange rate isn't that great and maybe you already have enough words to feed your family.  Is there something else you can trade that picture in for?

Here are two photos of odd or random things I've seen at work recently.  I didn't give you a thousand words with each one, but there is certainly more than just a simple story behind these pictures.

To the left you will see the infamous (at least on my work floor) printer/copier.  I am fairly confident that this machine has logged as many hours "under the technician's microscope" as it has in actually performing its primary role.  This recent image caught my attention long enough to take a photo.  Apparently the absence of a whole section of the machine was not enough to keep people from trying to make it work so someone had the genius idea of placing part of a folded paper box top in the open void.  I wonder how many otherwise smart people saw this and thought it was a new place to load paper?  Or perhaps they believed it now recycles cardboard?

On the right is a photo I took in one of our break rooms at work.  If you were able to see the whole room you would see typical items within: refrigerators, coffee pots, microwaves, vending machines, a sink, a water and ice machine, and some tables and chairs.  I thought back to that song from Sesame Street (one of these things is not like the others) when I noticed a BABY BATHTUB on one of the tables.  I'm not even sure HOW to respond to this.  Is it "bath your baby at work" day?  Did someone want to recreate the bathtub gin-making that occurred during Prohibition times?  Or maybe someone wanted to bathe in the aroma of their coffee?

Song Of The Day:
Today's song is a throwback called "Undercover Angel" by Alan O'Day.  The tune itself has no real connection to this post, but each chorus begins with an incredulous "I Said What?!" that perfectly captures my response to seeing these photo-required situations.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When You Say 'Get Dirty' ... ?

Since I make my living sitting behind a desk (for the most part anyway), I am often very grateful when the opportunity to "get dirty" comes along.
I rather enjoy working in the yard, especially when the temperature is reasonable and the physical work allows me to see progress at the end of hours of effort (sometimes hours of effort at any desk job can end with no discernible "progress" to show for it).

Last fall I snapped the picture to the right after a day of moving dirt and rocks and whatever else was on the list.  I found it amusing that, despite wearing socks and shoes, my feet themselves were still caked in dirt and grime.  I am confident these socks never came clean (that's okay though because I always need work socks and work shoes and work shirts and work pants and so on).

As Spring has sprung, I am looking forward to getting started on (and hopefully completing) this year's backyard landscaping projects.  I always sleep very soundly after a day at work in the yard, and those showers afterward are always the best!

Song Of The Day:
When I think of working in the yard I find myself in a farmer-type mentality, and that always leads me to country music.  Brad Paisley has been a staple in the country music scene for well over a decade now and his song "Mud On The Tires" is a personal favorite of mine.  I like the message of "real life is dirty" because I think we are all guilty of being too "pretty" sometimes.  In fact, Brad's song "I'm Still A Guy" is a great tune too and I think that fits here as well.  Enjoy the two-fer on this Tuesday!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Is That A Headless Santa ?

I really don't think there is much to be said here.  While in ABQ visiting our good friends, we drove past this full sized, headless, santa suit / statue.  Later in the day it was outside the front door of this house, as if to greet visitors, albeit in a completely creepy fashion.

Song Of The Day:
It was impossible not to think of the sarcastically peppy "Christmas At Ground Zero" by Weird Al Yankovic while composing this post.  I enjoyed that song the first time I heard it and it always serves as a perfect antithesis for the spirit of Christmas.  And what is more antithetical than a headless santa in the middle of Springtime in the Albuquerque desert?!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Is It Worth Going Back For ?

Another great experience from our Spring Break to Arizona trip was being able to spend some time at the Gilbert Arizona LDS Temple.  On Tuesday, 4/1, my wife and I plus my parents were able to attend an Endowment session at the Temple, ending inside the massive Celestial Room, which is simply awe inspiring.

That visit was so spiritually uplifting that Karen and I quickly made plans to go back on Thursday, 4/3.  So it was that the whole family made the drive into Gilbert so the children could walk the grounds of the Temple and we could take a few pictures.  I already shared the family picture on Facebook, but the two photos in this post were some that I took that I really liked.  All of the grounds of this Temple are perfectly suited for some amazing photographs, so if you like either of these then give credit where it is due (and that is the site, not me!)

Song Of The Day:
I have been a fan of piano music for as long as I can remember and there are some beautiful pieces out there.  I think the piano conveys a special spirit of reverence and majesty.
This song, "I Love To See The Temple" by Paul Cardall is a perfect companion to this post.  I certainly expect that heaven will be filled with lots of music, and I hope it is often simple tunes and melodies on a piano.
In ABQ, our friends tried to take a picture of me and my older boys in front of the Albuquerque Temple, but the back lighting of the sunset made it less than ideal, as we had to cut off the top of the Temple (with the Angel Moroni atop the spire) to avoid being completely washed out.  Oh well.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Um ... NATURAL Formation?

During our family Spring Break trip to Arizona, my mom and dad took us to the Arizona Museum of NATURAL History.  I have typed the word "natural" in all CAPS because this post is about a beef I have with their liberal use of that term as related to the following picture.

As you walk through the initial entry way into the heart of the museum, there are dozens of photographs or pieces of artwork depicting different NATURAL formations in earth's history.  Many of the depictions are inspiring and beautiful, and I found myself willingly accepting the arguably arbitrary historical timelines under which these phenomena were NATURALLY visible.  I'm sure you sciency people out there will get all riled up and defensive, but I find it a little difficult to just accept the concept of 300 million years ago versus 2-4 billion years ago.  Isn't that a bit BIG of a range?!  Really covering your bases there huh?!  But I digress ...

Amid all these images, I came across a NATURAL formation that was formed exactly 1.6 billion years ago.  It is utterly amazing that real living people were finally born which looked exactly like these NATURAL head shapes (which have a whole history about them being carved unnaturally by human hands within just the past century).

At least the kids enjoyed digging through recycled tires to find buried "dinosaur bones."  I wonder if the museum curators believe those are NATURAL too?

The picture to the right is where the kids panned for "gold" (which was also not NATURAL at all).  Just so many false claims!

(Please note the sarcasm of this entire post.  I am neither truly angry nor truly devoid of any intelligence).

Song Of The Day:
Although he is now a successful country singer, Darius Rucker used to front the band Hootie and the Blowfish.  I thought of their song "Time" as related to this post, for obvious reasons.  Listen along and see if you can catch some sarcasm in the words of the tune as you think about this post.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Golfing Every Morning ?

One of the most enjoyable experiences of our family Spring Break trip to Casa de Case in Arizona, was the opportunity to go golfing with my dad and my two older sons ... every morning!  Thanks very much to Grandpa Jerry for his membership connection (and even more for his willingness to go out early each morning) that allowed us to golf for free each day!

The boys got better, but no one ever beat me over the whole 9 holes (we played 10 holes each round, but that is just because the 9th hole has a makeshift tee box that aims directly back toward the green of the 1st hole).  We always played that hole as a double-or-nothing hole (since I was pretty much always ahead by a lot at that point).

We played initially by strokes against par (normal scoring if you don't follow golf), but gave that up after about 3 holes because we had nothing to track the scores on that first round.  We began to keep track of two things: total strokes and a modified point system (there was 1 point open for each hole, which could be halved if two or more players tied for the lowest number of strokes for that hole).

I was very proud of my sons, who joined me with a first stroke that stayed on the green on the 8th hole.  This didn't occur until our 4th morning of playing, but it was very cool nonetheless!

Song Of The Day:
I have chosen "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs for two reasons in this post.  First, it is more from my father's generation of music, so I can picture him doing his "car dance" to this tune ... and it cracks me up!  Secondly, the song was featured in one of the best golfing movies ever: Happy Gilmore.  I need to watch that film with my boys!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Yeah, But Do You Have A Restaurant Named After You ?!

In the past few months I have been at the Pepsi Center twice.  It was on my second trip there that I realized there is a bar / restaurant that bears the name of my oldest daughter.

I don't know anything about this establishment, but I have made a commitment to take my daughter there soon and get a picture of her in front of it!
I am sure it is not that uncommon, considering how many restaurants and bars are in existence, but this is the first time anyone in my family's name has been so prominent on a building!

Song Of The Day:
From their best (in my opinion) CD, here is "Call My Name" by my favorite group OMD.  If it were my name up on the building, I'd be sure to make a big deal out of it any time we were nearby.  In fact, it would probably become my Facebook photo and cover image too.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What Would You Spend A Million Dollars On?

It is certainly a fun daydream that we've all had, some of us multiple times a day.  If I won the lottery (or something similar) and found myself with a million dollars, what would I do with the money?

Many years ago I had an employee who actually did win the lottery.  She won a million dollars.  This was no longer a fun daydream, but was a real-life situation where decisions actually needed to be made and plans for the future put in place.  I spoke with her shortly afterward and coordinated an approved personal leave for her at work.

When she finally returned to work, I met with her to discuss her plans for her current job, etc.  She opted to continue working, so we confirmed a few things and she resumed her role.  But something she said during the conversation threw me for a loop.  Her exact words were "It's just a million dollars.  It's not really life changing."  ... Pause for effect ... "I'm sorry you say what now?! ... Not life changing?! ... How on earth is that even possible?!"  I immediately judged her harshly and assumed she had, in fact, lost her mind.

But then I got to thinking about it ... and as hard as it is for me to admit it, I think she was absolutely right!

Here are a few examples of why it really isn't life-changing.  (And I apologize in advance if any of these logistics ruin your future fantasies of hitting it big.)
- The dream:  "I'll never have to work again"
The reality:  You would immediately be without health insurance.  You would run out of money much quicker than you realize with no new income arriving each year.  After taxes on the winnings, you are looking at likely only 7-10 years' worth of income.  You will be working, either now or later.
- The dream:  "I'll pay off my house and all my bills.  Debt free!"
The reality:  You cannot pay off things like utilities, maintenance and gas for your vehicles, continual food costs, and other typically recurring expenses (entertainment, phones, etc.)  And paying off your house carries with it some huge deductions come tax time.
- The dream:  "I'm going to take those vacations I always wanted."
The reality:  The logistics for the rest of your family do not change just due to money.  There are still school and possibly church or other commitments.  Travel still takes time and planning and it is not nearly as inexpensive as you would believe it to be.
- The dream:  "I'll donate lots of the money to good charities."
The reality:  Friends and family members will line up to be that charity, and it will be very hard to tell them no.  Someone will always plead a better case and you will be made to feel guilty for any decision to give to one and not the other, or to spend any of the money on yourself.

Song Of The Day:
The Barenaked Ladies have a great song titled  "If I Had A Million Dollars" ... so if you actually won (or inherited) a million dollars what would you really do?


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why Are You Licking The Chair?

This past Sunday I (and my family) was blessed to attend church with my parents at their ward in San Tan Valley, AZ.

Sadly, my youngest son was not as willing to sit quietly during Sacrament meeting, so we spent some quality time together in the halls.

He wouldn't stop shouting and play screaming, so I quarantined us in a classroom.

It was at that point he decided that he wanted to taste the metal folding chairs.

I have no idea why, but it took me several minutes of coaxing to get him to stop (not including picture time).

Song Of The Day:
Sometimes I get the feeling that moments like this will one day be a long forgotten memory.  I think that is part of the reason that I blog about them and share these photos.  I thought of Josh Kelley's tune "Old Time Memory" for this post.  I especially like the lyric when a song is how I remember you because I think music really can connect us to experiences we have lived through.