Thursday, November 16, 2017

When Hard Work Pays Off...

We're putting the final touches on a show that opens next week. We're putting in long hours to make sure it's the best we can make it. Leaving the theater sometimes after 11pm knowing I've got to clock in seven and a half hours later is daunting. And I'm one of the lucky ones--we live the next town over from the theater and we get home quickly.

This is the fifth Christmas show I've done in the past six years. So, basically, since 2012 (except for one year...), I've spent almost every night during October and November rehearsing and performing every other night during December.

That's a lot of hours, a lot of time away from family, away from writing, away from other things--like sleep. This show's been easier for me in some ways--it's the third time I've done this particular version of Dickens's classic tale. But it's been harder because, well...I'm getting older. I don't move as easily as I have in the past. I'm called upon to dance in several numbers. It's fun, but it's taken me longer to learn and commit to memory the choreography. 

And then there's the director, the choreographer, and others involved in getting the show on its legs. They push us, push me, at least. In the past five shows, I've worked with four directors. Each has their own vision of what they want to see and we try our best to bring those visions to life. This last show, I feel "encouraged" to not only do my best as a Christmas gift for the audience, but to also have the experience mean more for me personally. They want us to fall in love with the story and have it change our lives, too.

Next week, we perform in front of loved ones, then on Friday we open the show for the public. And when we hit the stage for this show, you'll see a cast that's been given notes, critiques, suggestions, and only a few threats. I know I've worked hard on this one, and because of that, I think I'll enjoy it so much more because of it.

"What a good time!"

"What a fine show!"

In that order. One creating the other.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Motivation Posters At Work...What Motivates You?

You know how, when you see the same things every day, you get blind to them? Maybe you don't, but I know I do. I've blogged about the amount of motivational posters we have in my building at work. It's a little too much, if you ask me. I understand the reason for them and it's a personal preference thing. They used to bug me, but after months and months, I really don't see them anymore.

Which is why I did notice a change that happened this week. In our break room where two large posters showing what is acceptable and unacceptable office attire once hung, I saw two new posters, big, beautiful pictures.

It made me smile.

The pictures are not of the same thing. One is of the Golden Gate Bridge, the other a path covered by fauna. Both beautiful, but for different reasons. There is beauty in the things created by us, just as there is beauty in the things created by God. Each have their place, each--when done right-- compliment each other.

When I saw the new pictures, I looked again at a few of the motivational posters hanging around my work station. It made me wonder what's really motivating. Am I more motivated to work harder, do more with pictures of beauty without the quotes? 

Or, perhaps a better question is, if I were surrounded by incredible pictures without quotes, would I start to not see them after a while? My guess is it would be the latter. Maybe I should revisit the photos that already exist in the building with a new perspective.

Then again, maybe I should just stay at my desk and get my work done. That's the motivation I think everyone's looking for.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Those "Literally" Unseen Warnings...

Funny, how many times it's the things we don't see that we have to worry about.

The other day I got a new desk set up at work. Things were moved, things previously unseen were seen. I noticed a small sticker attached to the keyboard cable. Maybe I had seen it before and just ignored it (seeing as how I have worked hours and hours, weeks and weeks, months and months, years and years behind this device...), I'm sure I've seen it and thought nothing of it.

If you don't want to read the entire warning, don't worry--I did for you. Basically, it says that if you use their product too much, you may experience...well, problems.

I wonder how many other things should have a similar warning.

Is there a warning in a car that if you drive too much you might have issues? What about watching too much TV? Of course everything used too much can cause problems. I like the part of the warning that says you may have problems even if you're not using the keyboard that may be keyboard-caused. Classic. 

Recently, I got a new standing desk. It's to help my back and I believe it's working. Maybe I had back problems because of my keyboard. After reading the warning, I'm sure some have tried to blame the accessory for their problems. It just seemed a little odd to me, that's all. And because surgeries and other remedies cost so much nowadays, I'm sure it's worth it to the company to place an ominous warning that includes problems the product may or may have caused.

Then again, maybe it's natures way of telling us we spend WAY too much time behind a computer screen. Time will tell.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Sunsets Lately...

Ever since the Daylight Savings Time change a few weeks ago, I've been fortunate enough to be at my house when the sun sets over the island and lake west of us. If you've followed this blog or my Pic Of The Day at all, you know I'm a sucker for a good sunset picture.

Looks like nothing's changed.

I've been snapping pictures of sunsets with both cameras. I've been using several shots as my Pic Of The Day. I've not been sharing them as much as I usually do on other social media formats, mostly because I've been so busy. And because of that I thought I'd inundate you with some of what I've seen just before dusk over the past couple of weeks. 

Maybe the changing season brings on more clouds in the air. Maybe it's for other reasons, but it seems autumn has some of the best sunsets I see all year long.

And that's okay with me.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tonight Was Pie Night...The Knight Family Pie Fest Rides Again!

Tonight we loaded up the minivan and headed off to my cousin's house. We drove over a river, and near some woods until we ended up in West Jordan, Utah, home of my youngest cousin on my mother's side.

It's become a yearly tradition.

It's one we love.

And not just because of the pies.

Driving across the valley tonight reminded me that it's the holiday season. We usually don't go a lot of places. It's even more unusual to drive after the sun goes down so having the entire family in the van in the dark of night only happens around this time of year. All we needed was snow. Apparently that's on its way.

Another though struck me. It's been a while since all six of us have traveled together. My son has his own car and he's so busy with school and work. And with kids doing their own things, it's more and more rare to have us all together going to the same place. In the coming years change is bound to happen. We'll have even fewer opportunities to be all together.

We were greeted at the door with a sign--some might call it a warning to all who enter--to enjoy family and food. Fortunately we were allowed in because we brought good pies. This year's event wasn't as well-attended as others, but then again, we left a little early to get everyone home so we can get sleep to prepare for tomorrow.

The Knight Family Pie Fest. Like I said, it's becoming a tradition, one I hope continues for a long time. Thanks Alicia and Garry for opening your home to us once again!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saying "Thanks" On Veterans Day...

I sat home all day--no work to go to, no rehearsals to attend. I did some writing, watched some football, and did the family's laundry.

Before all that, I hung our flag outside.

It was probably the best thing I did all day, even though taking freshly-made pies to the garage refrigerator for tomorrow night's Family Pie Night after my wife asked me to was important, too. I thought about using the picture of the flag as today's "Pic Of The Day," but I decided against it. I should devote more time to the flag, the day, and what the day means to me than just posting a simple picture.

We can thank the relatives who went before us for literally our lives. Because of their decisions we're here. And because of how events turned out, people living today do so in a world where more people are fed, clothed, and sheltered than at any given time in the history of humanity.

What does that have to do with Veterans Day?

I'd like to think we're smart enough to not want to kill each other. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened. Just in the twentieth century alone millions of people died due to the decisions of their governments. And because of brave men and women of our country, things turned out differently than they could have.

We honor (or, at least, discuss...) veterans only a few times a year, and like my single picture of a flag, they deserve more attention than that. They volunteered to die for people they don't even know. There are few things in life that compares with that.

In a world where everyone wants to be famous, they serve wanting nothing but a simple "thank you," and for those whom they serve to treat them with respect. If we could all follow their example.

I benefit from the sacrifices of others. My father and four of his brothers served in WWII. Thankfully, they all survived. And I stayed home all day, watching sports, trying to write, doing laundry, and accessing all the world's information at my fingertips. I exist because of the actions and sacrifices of others. To them I say, thanks. I'll try to be a better person because you and what you did.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Watching A Very Efficient Pizza Worker...

Tonight my wife and I had our first date night in several months. I had a weekend job in September and October which took away all our possible Friday and/or Saturday date night opportunities. There's lot of places to get dinner--more now near us than there have ever been--but we both decided pizza sounded great for tonight.

If you're not familiar with the fast food chain Blaze Pizza, you should check it out. They've perfected making personal pizzas in about as much time as it would take to get a value meal at a burger joint. We placed our order on-line then I drove down and waited for them to fire up our dinners.

Tonight--like most nights--the place was packed. I've been there many times when it's packed and I've seen the pizza cut and serve area a real mess. Most times this area has pizza after pizza waiting to be cut and served.

But not tonight. 

I don't know his name, but because I had to wait for our food to cook, I had nothing to do but watch this employee work. He was great, efficient, no wasted movements. He even used the pizza cutter to shave off the burned crusts around the pizza edge. It was actually cool to watch.

I know there's many videos on-line that show workers who know and do their jobs really well. My little video isn't all that spectacular, but as I waited it was nice to see an overworked and probably underpaid employee do a really good job.