Thursday, July 31, 2014

Is Your Room Clean ?

In anticipation of having visitors staying at our house, I went through the 'guest' and other 'common' rooms for what I had thought would be a quick inspection and 'tidy up' process.  Most of the way through I was pleasantly surprised that we we ready to invite some out of town family into our home.

And then I found this ...





To be transparent, the bed on it's side was my doing - this was a necessary step to FIX the bed frame, which, upon inspection, was found to be broken.

But other than that, the mess of clothes, toys, papers, shoes, candy wrappers, trading cards, sports equipment, and trash was just as it appears in these photos.

Two loads of laundry plus five large boxes and one kitchen trash bag later, the room was in a much better state.  After my son returned home from school (yes his first day of school was today as well), I sat down with him to outline the 'next steps' in keeping his room clean and earning his stuff back.  He sorted his now clean clothes into 'keep' and 'doesn't fit anymore' piles.  He took the trash out to the garbage can.  We discussed extra chores and a timeline for completing them whereby he can earn the items he wishes to keep back from their boxes.

Hopefully it never gets this bad again.

Song Of The Day:
I would never actually refer to this room as a "Beautiful Mess" but the song by Jason Mraz doesn't just say mess so this will have to do.  The melancholy feel of the song works for my mood upon clearing the mess from the room too.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Enjoy Parenting ?

While cleaning out some papers from an infrequently used tote, I came across an instruction manual for a baby carrying product my wife and I bought (or maybe it was a gift?) many years ago when we first became parents.

I found several amusing things about this instruction manual, including the following:
- The baby looks fake ... or dead.  I know he or she is sleeping, but still ...
- The woman is clearly excited.  I'm not sure if this is because the baby is asleep (I hope it's not excitement because my first observation is accurate) or if it is to say 'Look ma, no hands!'
- Check out the carrier's midriff - I'm fairly certain this isn't the baby's mom ... but if so, I would think all other moms would hate her for being that fit with such a young child.

But by far, my favorite part of this manual is the tagline 'Enjoy parenting.'  This one cracks me up the most of all because of the sheer audacity of that statement as suggested in association with the Baby Bjorn child carrier.  It seems to suggest that parenting cannot be enjoyed without one of these contraptions.  The irony in this is something anyone who has ever used one of these carriers can point out to you - having and raising a child is almost as challenging as strapping yourself (and then the baby) into this device!  I didn't take pictures but there are no less than two dozen steps in securing yourself and baby into the carrier.

I enjoy parenting just fine without always needing to use our Baby Bjorn.

Song Of The Day:
As a parent it can feel overwhelming sometimes.  With that in mind I suppose I should give credit to the marketers of this product in their effort to suggest that everything will "Be Okay" (tune by Oh Honey).
I just wonder whether the instruction manual needs to include this explanation of why you bought or received this item as a gift.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why Is English So Much Fun ?

Song Of The Day:
I grew up learning English and listening to Gloria Estefan, which is ironic since I'm pretty sure she was originally a Latin singer.  Regardless, I thought of her tune "Words Get In The Way" from when she headed the Miami Sound Machine.  Sometimes in life, regardless of language, the words really do get in the way of communication.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dark Chocolate WHAT ?!

Went shopping the other day with my two oldest sons and it was quite fun.  I needed some more peanut butter for sandwiches at work, but while we were picking some out one of my boys (I forget which one) noticed the spread at the right.

I'm not sure that's the best name for your product as it may be a euphemism for something you aren't necessarily trying to promote.

Song Of The Day:
In honor of the great "Weird Al" Yankovic's upcoming CD release, here is the amazing parody "Word Crimes" set to the tune of Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke.  I'm thinking dark chocolate dreams could definitely fit in the blurred lines category ... but maybe it's just a great band name in disguise.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Why Would They HAVE TO ?!

I saw the above bumper sticker on a car the other day.  I always read bumper stickers, but I'm not sure why.  I suppose I like to see if the short thoughts either inspire or irritate or amuse me.  But this one did nothing but confuse me.

I get that you could argue it takes a real woman to marry a soldier, but how does that save girls from having to marry a soldier?  Is there a law I am unaware of?  Do soldiers force girls to marry them if a real woman isn't available?  That seems like a more serious concern than just putting it on a bumper sticker.

Please help me understand if you have any idea what this is supposed to be conveying.  I really, truly don't get it.

Song Of the Day:
Ingrid Michaelson is an indie singer whose songs I never realized I loved as much as I do.  She has a recent song titled "Girls Chase Boys" and after listening to it on YouTube, I listened to a few more of her songs that sounded familiar.  About 30 minutes later I realized I hadn't heard a song I didn't like.  Bonus: my wife really liked all of the songs too.  Looks like I have some music to purchase and download soon.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Who Needs A Folding Table ?

I hate ironing.

I am certain this stems from having ironing as a household chore growing up.  I'm quite good at it (after years of practice who wouldn't be?!) but I avoid it as often as possible.  This is partly why I do the laundry in the Case Place.  Some loads can sit in the dryer for any length of time, but permanent press items should be hung up as soon as possible.  Especially if you want to avoid any ironing.

It may look silly, but hanging shirts is
MUCH easier this way and can be done
right in the closet!  Efficiency win!
For as long as I can remember I've used the bed in our master bedroom as a makeshift folding table.  After years of bringing hangers from the closet and trying to find places to hang shirts, pants, skirts, etc. I had an idea.  Why not bring the clothes into the closet and just hang them there?!  But then I thought, how can I avoid making so many trips to the closet?!  A few different tests and voila! ... I had it!

My wife laughs every time she sees me piling our outer garments on my shoulders, but why would I care about a little poking fun at me when the results are so good?  That's right, I don't mind at all.  Especially because there's still no need for ironing!

Song Of The Day:
The song "Under You" by Trickside came to my mind the other day and I think it fits here.  Not just because I'm talking about laundry and the song features references to a pair that should have stayed together.  I know they didn't mean socks, but they could have.  I also think the lyrics "anywhere you are, I'll be under you" could be the piles of laundry that appear each week to be completed.  "I start gaining ground" but the piles are just everywhere!


Friday, July 11, 2014

What Are Weeds Good For ?

From my earliest memories I had a fondness for fire and a distaste for weeds.  Despite the obvious solution that combines these two things, it is only recently that I have put two and two together.

Temporary fire pit
In our expansive backyard, we've recently uncovered an area where there is no vegetation whatsoever, just dirt.  Although not perfectly flat, I leveled the area reasonably well and created a small, temporary fire pit.  I am sure a more permanent one will be constructed, but for now this little test refinery will work just fine.

Josh and Ben
enjoying the fire
When fully dried out, weeds are not only an excellent fire starter source, but they also burn quickly and very hot.  So over the past year or so, I've accumulated a few piles of weeds in corners of our backyard, and they have dried out entirely.  This past week, after a good afternoon rainstorm that saturated the surrounding grounds, I proceeded to kill two birds with one stone: weed piles gone and pyromaniac tendencies satiated.

coals from the fire
My oldest sons helped me manage the fire (as much as I love playing with fire, I'm actually VERY careful with it and respect that it has a mind of it's own).  The boys got some great pictures of the glowing coals for background photos on their iDevices too.

Song Of The Day:
Not only is "Burn" by Ellie Goulding a great new song, but it fits perfectly with today's post.  Our WiFi stretches out to the fire pit area and this song came on my Songza app while we were tending the flames.  My eyes lighted up as she sang "cause we got that fire, fire, fire ... and we're gonna let it burn, burn, burn, burn gonna let it burn, burn, burn."  I'm confident my boys enjoyed it too!  :)


Thursday, July 10, 2014

It's Only 40 Right ?!

Rocking those sweaters in the early 90's
Today's post is a brief nod to my awesome older brother Jeremy!

For him, this year's birthday is atop a hill of sorts.  Technically, most say it is the birthday that puts him over the hill (or OTH), but he's still as young as ever in my book.

Jeremy and I have plenty of memories of times together in our youth, teens, twenties, and thirties.  If I was better prepared, I'd have collected pictures to share from each of those decades ... but instead you get just a few pictures of Jeremy (and I ... and our other siblings too) from our high school days. 

Thanks for letting Charlie and I tag along
for your Senior Prom.  And thanks for
setting us up with our dates too!  :)
Jeremy, just for you, here is a short list of some memories I hope you will think fondly of:
Star Wars figurines, black and white movies, connecting basement bedrooms, bunk beds and tree-climbing (never again), throwing ice into the hotel pool (why did you answer the door?!), early morning seminary, the Babemobile, Senior Prom (for you), the Yellow house, the Brick house, playing cards in the hall at school (Card Club!), sword fights with anything we could find (pool noodles, those long leaves at the Orem house, etc.), MST3K (and later RiffTrax - let's go again soon, my treat!), rat tails, long hair, short hair, beards, bowling, staying up late watching satellite tv, old Nickelodeon shows (Out of Control, YCDTOn Television, Pinwheel - Stanley Sandwiches), board games (especially Sequence back in the early 2000's), Friends Scene It, and "why don't you move into our apartment?"

Thanks for supporting me before,
during, and after my mission!
Thanks for always going first in this life!  There are so many other memories that I can't wait to recall as we get the opportunity to reflect over the next 40 years.  I will always look up to you, even if I'll also always be taller.

Song Of The Day:
It has nothing to do with an OTH birthday.  But the song "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry is a nice Throwback Thursday song that will always remind me of Jeremy and times we spent together as teenagers.  I'll let you ask him for any more details, but I know he'll enjoy this blast from the (relative) past.  :)


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Convenient Is Your Laptop ?

A few years ago I upgraded from a desktop computer to a laptop at work.  It was all the rage (as much as that is possible in a call center) at the time, especially since our building had just been upgraded to have WiFi available everywhere within it.

The first few weeks took some getting used to, but I eventually loved the convenience of having access to everything on my work computer anywhere in the building(s) where I worked.  It was also much more convenient to work at home, although that was very sparingly (it's kinda loud, er, busy with 7 kids).

This portability has been of even greater use to me in my new role at work as the Training Supervisor.  I spend a fair amount of my work hours in conference rooms (for meetings) or training rooms (observing trainers from my team).  Having the laptop allows me to stay accessible to others while primarily focusing on something else.  I've even gotten used to the smaller screen size (which I'm sure is HUGE compared to laptops of just a decade ago) and using the smaller keyboard and mouse-pad square.

What I haven't gotten used to is "re-connecting" when I get back to my desk.  Including the new phone system we just upgraded to (which is a VoIP system), I have 5 cords to "re-connect" when I want to use my laptop at my desktop.  I also have to open the laptop to do a quick "restart" so the connections reset and function properly.  While this is a little inconvenient, I will gladly suffer through it, as the benefits greatly outweigh the drawbacks.

Song Of The Day:
What better re-connection song than "Connected" by Stereo MCs.
Good tune that has nothing to do with wires or WiFi or laptops, but at least the title works here.  :)


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Is That A Tree Or A Bush ?

My wife and I go on walks in our neighborhood as often as the weather and time allows.  It is nice to get out and spend some alone/together time while getting a little exercise and enjoying the clean Colorado air.  There is a feeling of relaxation that always happens throughout the process of the stroll.

But sometimes (and very often lately) I am filled with frustration.  This stems from two different bothers that happen during these walks.

First, when did people stop caring about their trees or bushes completely blocking the sidewalk?  Isn't this an HOA violation?  Doesn't the homeowner have some responsibility to allow a clear walkway on the city-installed sidewalk?  It's even more frustrating than the folks with 2/3 of their monster truck parked across the sidewalk/driveway overlap.

Second, when did people stop understanding the difference between bushes and trees?  Most trees are not intended to have branches from the bottom to the top of the trunk.  That's what we call a bush.  Trees should have a tree-like shape.  There are so many trees in our neighborhood that have not been maintained and now look like bushes.

Both of these situations frustrate me to such a point that I am seriously considering bringing garden shears with me on our walks.  Snip snip.  Now there is room to walk on the sidewalk.  Snip snip.  Now you have a tree again.  Snip snip.  You're welcome lazy homeowner.  I won't even send you a bill!

Song Of The Day:
There's plenty of songs about trees or walks out there, so I opted for one about cutting.  Gloria Estefan's song "Cuts Both Ways" is both a great tune and also sound like it could be describing my feelings about these tree/bush bothers.


Monday, July 7, 2014

What Does That Sign Say ?

I do enjoy the convenience of taking pictures with my phone (I always have a "camera" with me now) because life is filled with odd moments that just need a photo to be able to share some amazing, or most of the time in my case, funny experiences.

The picture below was taken at my kids' Middle School (Skyview), which is about a half-mile from our home.  They have a large scrolling display board posted outside the front of the school, where there are often messages and reminders of important dates or activities coming up.  But the other day while driving by I noticed that the normally black with red lettering sign looked starkly different.  I drove closer to get a better look and found it amusing what the sign said.

I know this wasn't on purpose, but the phrase "No Schedule Found" being displayed on the big board during the summertime when school is out of session was highly amusing to me.  Of course there's no 'schedule found!'  The kids (and teachers and administrators) are on summer vacation!  No matter how hard you try, you'll almost never find a 'schedule' for summertime!

Song Of The Day:
I was technically out of middle school when "Summertime" came out, but it always reminds me of those middle-school summers.  Once in high school, summers are filled with more activities, so middle-school summers are the last true "free" times to be enjoyed.  I love this song and I know I am not the only one who can quote every lyric!  I tip my hat to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince for composing such a long-lasting, memory-conjuring, and all around perfect reminder of summers gone by song.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Is That Why We Go Bald ?

It's not like it's a big secret or anything.  It happens to lots of guys, probably most guys eventually.  You may not be aware of it at first glance, although with some men it is VERY obvious.  Often it is the man himself who has the problem that is one of the last to know, mostly because he can't see it.

I'm sure he is celebrating his
team's championship this year
and NOT his loss of hair.
I've begun to notice a distinct thinning of hair atop my head.  This is more evident when my hair is cut much shorter (but no, that is not the reason I've grown it out to combing length - it may be a contributing factor but it's not the main reason).  Inspecting the area a little more closely, it becomes evident that it is about the size of what I would guesstimate most of those balding guys' hair loss area appears to be: about the size of a small bread plate.  I've been mourning the loss of many good hairs over the past few months, while also pondering on why our hair disappears anyway.

So here is my completely-untested-and-destined-to-be-proven-flawed-but-it-makes-sense-to-me theory of why at least my hair is thinning in that yarmulke area.  I blame showering and shampooing.

Think about it for a minute.  Men, when you stand in the shower pondering life's mysteries (like what cereal to eat for breakfast today), where is the water spraying on your head?  For me, and I would guess many men (a total guess since I've not seen other men in showering situations), the water is usually spraying right at that spot on my head.  And what do we know about the force of water in nature?  It eventually erodes anything!  Strike One.
Now add in your shampoo and/or conditioner.  Think here again about where you begin shampooing your head of hair.  Doesn't it pretty much always start at the apex of your head?  Strike Two.
And after rubbing it in roughly (to get a good lather going) right in that spot, you'll often begin rinsing the soap out by having the water run where?  Right on that same spot!  Strike Three.  There's got to be some connection right?!

Oh sure you could reject this theory by pointing out that my forehead is enlarging too.  But I believe this is the soldiers on the front line realizing there is a war being lost in the middle of the battlefield and they are trying to retreat like cavalry that will never make it.  Brave little soldiers.  Just stay put where I need you most.  No one really looks back there much anyway.

Song Of The Day:
I'm excited that Nickel Creek is back together again and has a new CD.  I've heard a few of the songs, but they mostly just reminded me of one of their best songs ever which I've never shared here.  "When You Come Back Down" is more of a lost love song or one of inspiration, but in typical me fashion, it is me letting my hair know I'll always be here to welcome it home if the grass isn't greener wherever they went.  Just like the line "I keep looking up, awaiting your return."  It's a beautiful Sunday song anyway!  :)


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Is That Your Pew ?

3 of my 4 daughters enjoying some
drawing time during Sacrament Meeting
(Ben was tired)
I love going to church, most Sundays anyway.  There is a familiarity to the experience and I am grateful for my children's ability to settle into positive patterns while at church.  It teaches social skills and provides an opportunity to gain faith and belief in something greater than themselves.

Because of our consistent attendance at church, our family has our own more or less designated pew.  Virtually nobody ever sits in the front row, as though this was some unwritten social faux pas, but our family pew is the one right after that.  Yes, this is closer than most people would choose to sit, but there's one key reason for it: legroom.

This second bench seat is the first full-sized row.  The first pew is about 3/4 the length of a full pew, which means there are about four feet on either end of the bench with nothing in front of you.  This is excellent for me, as I have longer legs than typically fit comfortably in church pews.

Song Of The Day:
I know we're talking about benches or pews here, but this post is also about Sundays.  Craig Morgan's song "That's What I Love About Sunday" conveys some thoughts on both subjects.  I love Sundays and I also love having our own family pew at church.


Friday, July 4, 2014

How Was Your 4th Of July ?

Around this Case household, the 4th of July has come to mean one set thing for the past five+ years: a day at the VGRA pool.  My wife has been the President of the Pool Board for this local community pool for most of that same time period, and has done a remarkable job leading the board and helping turn this pool around (but that's another story for another post).  On this day every year, the pool has a MASSIVE party, primarily for pool members.  The party has had a few elements change of the years, but one thing has been constant: it's just plain old good family fun!  There are relay and individual races (including watermelon pushing contests and wet t-shirt swimming [trust me, it's hard to swim in an over-sized wet t-shirt]).  There is also a series of "money dives" for different age groups (to make it more fair).  I'm grateful for the strong swimmers each of my kids are because they always do well in those money dives.  To be fair, almost always is the money re-invested in the pool itself by way of the snack bar, but the kids get to choose how to spend their money so it's all good.

There is also a very loosely facilitated water-balloon tossing "contest" which is depicted in the picture to the right.  Some people take it really seriously and get quite a great distance apart from one another before inevitably one of the pairing mishandles a catch and gets a balloon bath.  For others, that bath happens on the first toss.  No matter, as there are buckets full of water balloons to try again with.

As much of a challenge as it can be to watch over our 7 kids mostly by myself (remember Karen is busy running the grill or staffing the check in table or supporting the whole pool in some way), it always ends up being a very enjoyable way to spend most of our day.  I get a little swimming in and a little sun on my skin and usually a little time to read or just chat with other people.  We're usually too exhausted at day's end to go watch any fireworks, but the kids never seem to mind.

Song Of The Day:
I just love Brad Paisley's music and his song "Water" just fits nicely with the theme of this day's post.  One of the lyrics states "all you really need, this time of year ... is a place that's near: water"  Quite a bit of the fun at these pool parties involves things that aren't so much in the water as near the water.  Wise words song-writer, wise words.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Which Is It ?

On the TV show "Psych" the main character, Shawn Spencer, has many catchphrases, which he mostly says to his sleuthing partner Burton "Gus" Guster.  One of my favorites is a line he uses when there is an insignificant argument over word choices or semantics.  Shawn will say "I've heard it both ways."  To which Gus will often respond "No you have not!"  And then I just laugh and laugh.  But it got me thinking ...

Is it "flesh it out" or "flush it out"?
- In meetings at work or church I often hear people use both of these phrases, and I'm not sure which one is actually the most correct for the situation.
When I hear "flesh it out" my first reaction is that sounds gross, what are we human anatomy scientists?!  But then it also makes sense, especially if we're talking about an idea that needs more depth or details being spelled out.
But then "flush it out" really sounds more appropriate when you're trying to get rid of something like dirt in your eye or poor performance results.  I suppose it too also sounds gross.

Is it "supposedly" or "supposably"?
- There's a funny scene from an episode of Friends where one of the characters, Joey, finds himself saying the word "supposably" to himself multiple times to see if it sounds right.
I know what supposedly is and when it should be used but I always thought supposably was a made-up or incorrect word ... but it actually is a variation on the word "suppose" so it has it's place in our lexicon.

I wonder what other phrases or words are out there that would generate the response "I've heard it both ways."

Song Of The Day:
Since this post references Psych, one of the best ever shows on TV, and they regularly reference the 1980's, it's only appropriate to share a great 80's tune.  I've chosen "What You Need" by INXS for two reasons: I haven't heard it in a long time - and - it contains examples of some lyrics that could be heard both ways.  LOTS of songs are like this actually, but that's another post for another day.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What's Your Irrational Fear ?

I have a fear of sneezing in front of large groups of people.

No, I am not kidding.  Yes, I do realize this is completely irrational.

What am I worried about?  Well, for starters, I actually worry that some sort of mucus or snot will come out of my nose, or that some phlegm from my throat will launch across the room or table I am seated at and spray all over someone else.  And to compound either worst case scenario described there, I will be completely unprepared and have nothing with which to wipe this disgusting bodily fluid from my own face or the face of anyone I accosted.

The fear is so bad that I have actually trained myself to withhold sneezing during these settings.  This may cause me serious health issues later, but I'm honestly willing to accept them in exchange for not experiencing the awkward sneeze in front of a group.  There is a downside to this skill though, as my face contorts in some odd ways when keeping the sneeze in.  If someone is looking directly at me while I'm doing this, it causes some very odd stares and conversations afterward.  No matter, it is still better than snot missiles or having boogers on my face.

Song Of The Day:
What would a weird post be without a Weird Al song?  It'd be a travesty!  So here is "Gotta Boogie" and if you haven't heard it before, enjoy the lyrics ... they will make you rethink words we use in music (and it just might help ruin any 70's music for you).


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Could It Be That Simple ?

I am by NO means a tech-savvy person.  You know how some people naturally seem capable around computers or technology?  Not me.  On some level it is a minor miracle every day that I am able to successfully navigate different systems or electronics.  I jokingly say this is why my wife and I continued having children ... so they can help us as things continue to get more complicated.

That said, I have tried very hard to keep up with different technological advances.  I spent the better part of a full day at work testing different bells and whistles when we migrated from LotusNotes to Outlook.  I am now quite capable of doing some impressive (to me anyway) things with my calendar and emails and contact lists, etc.  I also challenge myself, on at least a semi-regular basis, to download new apps on my iPad or phone and/or to use new software on my home or work computer.  This probably still leaves me behind really effective users of system enhancements, but it keeps me close enough to the conversation that I can ask for help without being unable to describe what I'm actually trying to do.

Regardless, I am always surprised when things turn out the way I wanted them to, or even more so in situations where I can help someone else with their technological challenges.  A fellow Blogger had shared with me several months ago some struggles that she was having with her Blog.  She complained (and rightly so) that her blog was no longer allowing her to insert pictures where she wanted them, or move them around, or adjust the text with bold or italicized type, etc.  At the time, I just expressed my sympathies, knowing full well there wouldn't be anything I could do to help.

Then this past week, I happened to be speaking with her at a time we were near a computer, so I helped her pull up her blog.  I quickly saw how terribly formatted the screen was and couldn't believe she had even continued blogging under these circumstances.  It was horrible!
So after a few minutes of just surveying the scene, I noticed a two-button-like section on the task bar just below the title section of the blog post.  One option showed "Compose" and the other was titled "HTML."  I clicked on the button labeled compose and immediately the Blog text looked just like I am used to seeing when I write mine.  It was "fixed" just like that.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy so I tested the set-up by writing a ghost post.  I used different text styles, added pictures (both from the computer and from a web address), rearranged where everything laid on the screen, and tested the view of the post.  It worked.  My fellow Blogger was ecstatic and I was happy to have helped.  :)

Song Of The Day:
I thought I had shared the following song on my blog previously, but a quick search of my songs of the day list revealed it had never been used.  Score!  So please enjoy the excellent a capella stylings of Straight No Chaser and their rendition of "Fix You" which was originally done by Coldplay.  Some of the lyrics state I will try ... to fix you and that's always all I can offer when it comes to technology.