Thursday, February 23, 2017

Another Tournament...This Time It's Teams

I thought Ping Pong Tournament Season had ended at work.

I was wrong.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Earlier this year both ping pong and air hockey tournaments were held. Everyone had fun, lots of noice was generated, winners prevailed, losers didn't. I had no idea there was another contest just waiting to be held.

Since this involves teams, I loved the creativity of the names: Backhanded Compliments, Sherpas, Nine Spine Sticklebacks, and my favorite, Blazing Paddles. I asked about Sherpas. It seems they ordered their paddles from Asia, so they're the Sherpas. I have no idea what Nine Spine Sticklebacks means.

I also like the Tournament Logo, the first-place trophy (a golden paddle), even the second-place trophy. Since I'm still relatively new to this building all these things are new to me. It's fun to get to know my co-workers and learn of their creativity and competitiveness. I wonder what other surprises are in store.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Man...I've Missed These Guys!


My son, the student, recently signed up for Amazon Prime. Students apparently get a killer deal when it comes to Amazon Prime. And I support that. There are many deals, advantages, and perks to being signed up for this service. But one I looked forward to utilizing was watching three British journalists talk about cars. Yes, I'm talking about Grand Tour.

I assume most of the fans of the Jeremy Clarkston, Richard Hammond, and James May trio have already signed up for Amazon Prime and therefore, have watched all the episodes. We're usually late to most parties, especially if attending the party comes at a price. In other words, we're cheap.

But thanks to the student discount, we get to enjoy the show (we're still cheap, of course...).

I watched the premier on my iPad and took several screenshots to use for this blog post. When I went to post them here, they were completely black. I guess all images are protected. I hope it's okay to use the one I was able to download. It's not flashy, but you get the point. Too bad--the opening sequence of the new show is, in my humble opinion, brilliant. The music provided an emotional cherry on top of the entertainment experience.

Top Gear, Grand Tour's predecessor, was as good a show that's on TV now, or possibly ever. The cast is such a well-oiled (to use a car term...) comedic a troupe, many seasoned comedians might well be jealous of that chemistry. But what continued to impress me about Top Gear was its beauty. The cinematography for that show blew me away. They made the world's most beautiful cars even more beautiful. It was a pleasure to just sit back and watch the show for that reason alone.

I wondered if Grand Tour would live up to its earlier version. As far as the premier goes, it succeeded. The show, for the most part, followed their tried-and-true recipe, and why not? If it works, why change? It will be interesting to see how things develop for the rest of this season and seasons to come.

Yes, it's been a while since I watched the three men interact and test cars. You don't know how much you've missed something until it returns. Turns out, I missed them a lot.

* Photo used without permission from Amazon

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What...The...Heck Is That Thing?

Last week my wife got a call from our daughter--seems we had a new occupant in our house. They caught a little bug, a bug they couldn't identify. When my wife and I got home, we couldn't tell what it was.

I grew up across the street from where I now live. We live on the side of a mountain and as a kid, I was on that mountain everyday. I'm sure I wasn't up there everyday, but that's how it felt. I know I spent more time hiking and catching critters on the mountain that any of my kids have. Then again, I can't really blame them. If I had video games, computers, and on-demand entertainment as I kid, I probably wouldn't have spent much time up there either. 

And even though I have lived here almost all my life, I did not know what that bug was. It was small, just a little bigger than a mosquito. It had six legs (though one was missing, most likely lost in its capture...) and two long antennae. It had the body of a tiny Praying Mantis, but the head didn't look like that at all. I was stumped.

Since we didn't know what the bug was, we did what most people do, we turned to Facebook, the fount of all knowledge. My wife asked her friends; I asked my friends. At first, we received little response. It could be because my pictures weren't too clear. It was so small, I had a tough time focusing on the little guy (I'm assuming it was a guy...).

It wasn't until Sunday that we got what we think is the definitive answer. A neighbor came up to us at church and told us it was most likely an Assassin Bug Nymph. I did a quick search, saw some pictures on-line, and agreed. Of all the bugs we were told it could be, the pictures of the assassin bug nymph looked the most like the one we caught.

The bug no longer resides among us. We have no idea if there are others about. They're so small we might miss them. But, as things change in life, it's probably not the last bug about which we don't know lives either inside or outside our little home.

Monday, February 20, 2017

So...You Mind We Take That Little Car For A Test Drive?

We have teenagers in the house and teenager equals driver, at least it does in the area where we live. My teenagers don't drive. That is something I never thought I'd say about any teenagers, let alone, my teenagers. But, it's the way of things now. Kids these days live in a different world.

But my daughter wants to get her license, and so this weekend I did a little internet search. I found a little VW bug. Let me tell you about this bug. It's a few years older than the car I drive now, it has more miles than my car, but the price listed for this automobile was pretty remarkable.

The write-up of the car in the internet ad said something like, "Imagine driving down the road in this sporty little car."

Well, this afternoon I picked up my daughter from a dance practice (something a drivers license and car for her would no longer require me to do...) and we decided to go check out the car. After all, if she's going to work on getting her license, I thought it would be fun to test drive a car.

We pulled up, saw the car. I wondered what it looked like because the internet ad had only a stock photo. The car looked good--a little beat up, but that's to be expected considering the price. We went inside and were introduced to a salesman. We'll call him Matt.

"What can I help you guys with today?" Matt said in a very non-pushy way. 

"Well, I'd like to show my daughter that little bug you have on your lot and take it for a test drive."

Matt thought for a second, then said, "Well, that car doesn't move."

"Ah, excuse me?" I said.

"Yeah, it starts and you can get in it, but it doesn't run."

"I guess we can't take that one out for a test drive, can we?"

"No, we cannot."

Since we were there, Matt showed us some used cars on their lot that did move and that we could take for test drives. We ended up not driving any of them, but Matt was completely professional. I asked for his card and said goodbye. My daughter and I drove home discussing how people purchase cars, especially when buying new is not an option.

Tonight I told my family of our little adventure. I told them how it was especially funny because the internet ad asked the potential buyers to imagine driving down the road in that sporty little car. I guess if you buy it, imagine it driving down the road is one of the few things you can actually do with it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tonight's Photohike...

There's a thing called "Photowalks" and many people participate in them. I, however, have not. They look fun, but I don't do a lot of activities like that. We're kind of homebodies, except when I'm doing shows, or at conventions, or with writing groups, or working second jobs.

Tonight we had beautifully clear skies, and by "clear" I don't mean "cloudless." I mean without skies that pollution haze we get occasionally. The rain and wind cleansed everything. We did have big rolling clouds, so clean air, big clouds and a setting sun usually translates to an incredible sunset. I grabbed my camera (both lenses...) and my cellphone and I headed up the hill.

I decided to do a Photohike.

As far as sunsets go, it was so-so. Orwell might say it this way, "All sunsets are beautiful, just some sunsets are more beautiful than others." As I waited for the sunset to develop, I tried getting interesting shots of other things. 

Though hard to see, I did get a picture of a herd of deer I spooked.

I also took pictures of 100 North in Farmington.

As well as 325 East.

And I even got a shot of my shadow on a rock. I really should get up to the mountain more. Of course, it was just a few weeks ago that when I took these pictures had several feet of snow. I don't know if I'll do more Photohikes, or if I'll even to a Photowalk. But, hey--anything's possible.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

So...What Did You Do This Weekend?

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about not attending this year's Life, The Universe, And Everything (LTUE) writing symposium. It was a bittersweet post to write. I actually love that convention. There's so many good friends there, but this year, it didn't seem right for me to go.

I spoke to my wife earlier this week about it. We figured out that attending a three-day event so soon after doing back-to-back shows was too much. I hadn't thought of that when I decided not to attend LTUE, but it made sense. Putting in between 15-20 hours a week, in addition to a full-time job, since last September can take a toll.

So, as many of my friends were having a blast going to panels and selling their goods, I was moving and installing appliances. Our house is turning fourteen-years old this year. We've had to replace somethings (need to replace others...), but our fridge and dishwasher were still running.

But, when family calls and says they're buying all new stuff and do we want their old stuff, we said, YES! Their fridge is a decade newer than ours, and their dishwasher was not falling apart like ours literally was.

Thursday we moved the fridge; yesterday we installed the dishwasher. The last time we did that, I was younger, and my muscles were in better shape. There were other things that happened around the house that made me glad I stayed closed to home these last few days. Skipping LTUE this year--it was just meant to be.

Friday, February 17, 2017

My Daughter, Driving, And Rocking Out To Show Tunes...

My daughter is, I suppose you could say, a typical active teenager. She's involved in a dance troupe and she was recently cast in Centerpoint Legacy Theatre's production of Oliver. I know there are kids who do more and kids that do less, but she's plenty busy.

Tonight I drove her to a dance practice a few towns over. One of the great things I've always enjoyed when I do a show with one of my children is traveling back and forth to rehearsals. Even though I'm not in Oliver with her, I get to drive her to and from.

Tonight we had a blast.

I dialed up songs from the musical Shrek and as we drove home, I cranked it through the van's stereo. My daughter loves the music and when Who I'd Be came on, we each sang our parts. That was a lot of fun. When I got home, I downloaded the music from Oliver so we can do the same thing as we travel there and back. Yes, doing a show with your own kid is great, but singing songs from the shows as you commute is pretty good, too.