Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Some Parting Thoughts...

Tonight we say goodbye to a 366 block of days known as 2012. Exactly one year ago most people looked ahead to the year that was about to begin with parties or reflective moments. Some made resolutions of which few saw those goals come to fruition. And some--as either a a joke or a legitimate concern--thought the world would never see 2013. They were wrong.

I look to the upcoming year like I did a year ago...with cautious optimism. After the U.S. elections in November, I told a friend that I don't believe things are going to get better. My friend disagreed. We both hoped things would improve, but I don't think they will, generally speaking. I hold this opinion because of history. Societies tend to fall when they make the choices we are making and we've proven that we're no more intelligent than those who came before.

For me personally, 2012 was a good year. I read a lot of books. I wrote in this blog everyday (which, considering I spent a week with my son at scout camp is quite an accomplishment...). I got back on stage. There are, of course, things I would like to say happened, but I'm also glad to be able to say that there were things that could have happened--things that have happened to other people--that didn't happen to my family.

As I looked out my office window today and watched the snow silently fall on an empty parking lot, I thought about what New Years means to us all. To the sun above the clouds and the moon orbiting the earth, it means's a day like every other. So why do we turn this particular 24-hour period into such a potentially life-changing event? It's because we're people and we think we know everything (see paragraph #2 above...).

To all my friends and family, I hope the next 365 block of days known as 2013 will find us all better--better to ourselves and to each other so on a day exactly one year from now we will look back with as few regrets as possible. And the sun and the moon and the earth will be there to support us all. God's speed...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Les Misérables...A Great Review By Ben Allred

Poster of Les Miserables*

A Great Review

Being involved in a show this December has introduced me to many new friends, friends who love musical theater. And the release of Les Misérables is literally like crack to them...just the thought of the movie coming out on Christmas Day drove them into a tizzy. So it's not surprising that many of my theater friends have written reviews of their thoughts on the film. This is good for me because there's a good chance I won't see the film in the theater. Movies in theaters are something our family really doesn't do (we're Redbox people...).

Some of my friends have written long reviews, some short. But today I came across one that was stellar! I wrote my friend and he gave me permission to share, so here it is. If you know Ben Allred this is from him. Enjoy!

Ben Allred 4 hours ago near Bristol, VT

I had great expectations when we went to see Les Miserables the other night. I had imagined myself being swept up into a cyclone of sound, surrounded by the soundtrack romanticized in my memory for the last 25 years. I anticipated seeing the larger-than-life characters on the big screen and feeling every emotion and nuance of each song. I dreamed a dream of a fully epic multi-sensory cinematic experience.

It was not meant to be.

The surround sound at the little theater we chose was not working, and the teen-ager in charge didn’t have a clue. I would later curse myself for not driving the extra 30 minutes to Burlington to see LayMiz in a proper theater, with a proper sized screen, and a proper amount of freakin’ sound! It was like choosing Motel 6 for the honeymoon.

Did I hear the people singing the song of angry men? Not really. I did hear every cough, sniff, and position shift from every chair. I heard every Junior Mint poured into greedy hands; every loose Skittle hitting the floor, and every slurp of soda. I heard footsteps and conversations outside of the theater, and the soundtrack from the movie next door seemed to be working just fine.

And then there was Popcorn Man. He was sitting (of course) directly behind me, shoveling the popcorn into his mouth hand-over-fist. He ate as if the movie theater were the only place he had access to popcorn, and, not unlike myself, had come with large expectations of theater joy. Every three seconds he would violently thrust his hand into the poor medium size bag, and then, like a medieval catapult, launch it back towards his open mouth, gaping to crush the little crumbs of humble piety - every kernel screaming out “Oh man, show some mercy if you can!”

This heartless popcorn abuse continued without pause for the first 30 minutes of the movie. Was there no bottom to his bag? I tried to focus. Must… Watch… Movie... I struggled, strained, and tuned in for almost a moment - only to realize that Anne Hathaway was about to sing Fantine’s definitive song “I Dreamed a Dream.” My heart skipped a beat. Surely Popcorn Man would stop out of respect for her. NOPE! I guess he figured that since everyone else on screen was treating her so badly, a little popcorn munching was a minor offense.

Fantine began, “There was a time when men where kind”…. MUNCH! CRUNCH! chew chew…. “when their voices were soft”… CRINCKLE CRUNCH SMACK …“and their words inviting”…. MUNCH-SMACK SLOBBER chew chew chew…

Now, I don’t usually tell strangers off. But at that moment, I suppose, the beating of my heart echoed the beating of the drums! I had to say something, if not for myself, at least for everyone else in the theater, and future generations to come. In a single motion I twisted back and pushed out my open palm in front of his face and said “Hey, do you think you can you hold off for a sec?” (Yes, I’m pretty pathetic at give-you-what-for’s) I had stopped the catapult mid-launch, and Popcorn Man looked at me aghast. He was a kind-looking gentleman in his 70’s. With water eyes he quickly dropped his bag and said in a low whimper, “Oh yes,…um,… certainly.”


I spent the next 30 minutes of the movie feeling bad. Did I just tear that man’s hope apart? Maybe he’ll never come to the movies again. Maybe he was homeless, and that bag of popcorn was his only meal for the day or week. Maybe he’s still holding a big glob of popcorn in his mouth and he doesn’t dare chew or swallow for fear of my wrath. Maybe he’ll choke! What have I done, sweet Jesus, what have I done? Had I fallen so far and is the hour so late, that nothing remains but the cry of my hate? Did I not learn anything from that kind Bishop who showed mercy to Jean Valjean? If that Bishop were in my seat, he would have let Popcorn Man finish his bag to the last crumb. And then he would turn and say, “Friend, but you finished in such a hurry! Would you leave the best behind?” as he hands the man his own theater food – probably an extra large popcorn, a large soft drink, and candy from the top shelf – the expensive stuff, you know.

Several times I thought to turn back and apologize. But I felt I it was too late for that. Besides, I was actually starting to enjoy the movie, and I really did not miss his lip-smacking sound!

Then Russell Crow started singing ‘Stars.’

I paused. I cocked my head. I winced…

…then turned quickly back to the man and said, “You can eat your popcorn again, I don’t mind.”

*Movie picture used without permission from:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tipping--The Quandary...

 Here's basically what happened. We went to a wedding reception last night and after, we stopped by one of our small town's two Mexican restaurants. Francisco's (not to be confused with the famous Elf line: "Franciso--Oh! That's fun to say.") Mexican Grill in lovely downtown Farmington, Utah.

We ordered take out. We ordered two orders of chimichangas, chicken--they were out of beef, unfortunately... I signed the receipt and the staff ran off to prepare our dinners. I realized as they left that I did not add a tip to the bill. Tipping, it's a strange thing. I sometimes tip when we order take out, but not usually, and I definitely tip whenever we order food and have it delivered, which is extremely rare. But take out...?

Our food came and they only made one order of chimichangas, and since I only paid for one order, I had to pay for the second. This time when the receipt was placed before me, I added a tip. The restaurant quickly brought out the second order (apparently they gave us someone else's order and made them wait...). Now, I could have looked at their service as being sub-par because they messed up our order and made us wait. It's easy to find fault.

We came home and had dinner. I'm glad I was given a second change to show my gratitude to the restaurant staff with a few extra dollars--the food was delicious!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Inactive Ham...

We stopped by on a Sunday night to drop of a Christmas ham and to visit a bit. No one was home. We usually don't call and make appointments for a visit. The next day we tried again. My daughter and I were on our way to the theater so we stopped. This time, they were home.

I felt a little strange dropping off a holiday ham, and I wasn't exactly sure why. I mean, it's Christmastime, a time for giving to others--especially our friends and neighbors. He opened the door. We greeted and I asked how they had been. I then produced the ham from behind my back and said, "Merry Christmas." It's what he said that made me laugh.

"Oh! The Inactive Ham!" That was something I wasn't expecting to hear. But, with those few words, my friend made me realize why it felt a little strange to drop off the ham to his family. For those who live near me (and others who share my religion...), you know exactly what I'm talking about when I use the term, "inactive." I felt strange standing on his porch holding a holiday ham because I didn't want him to feel like we were giving the family food just because the term "inactive" applies.

But, he was right. I was glad to have shared. I just hope that the message of the gift was received in the manner for which it was intended...that they are a wonderful family and we care for them. I cannot speak for the entire group, but I can speak for myself. I do care about them and I hope they had a wonderful Christmas. Because of my friend, I don't think I'll ever see a holiday ham the same again.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chapter 1...More Digital Dusting


Chapter 1

Does this ever happen to you? You think of a story and begin writing it and write about 21,505 words and then you ignore the story for about a year? too. I'm so sick of not writing, of this thing just being something I started. I've decided that I'm going to start working on it again. Today I'm including a portion of this story for my blog post. On 7 November 2012 I included another portion of this story (a bit that follows this chapter...). If you're interested in reading that post again, the link to it is: HERE.

This is a bit long. I hope it's worth your time, and I hope it gets my posterior in gear to get back into the writing saddle and go to town. Wish me luck! 

Chapter 1
            The train that transported Susan McDonald to her job in Washington D.C. was late causing the mass of humanity already waiting on the train platform to curse the lightly falling snow. They also cursed the bitter cold front that descended upon the east coast as the commuters now standing on the Alexander Union Station silently stood. The gray sky introduced the laborers to the morning of April 15, 1977.
            The cold air engulfed Susan as she wrapped the wool coat tighter around her shivering shoulders. Like most mornings the 28-year old managed to stand right behind “him,” though Susan didn’t know who “he” was. She only knew he was an incredibly handsome man who took the same 6:37 a.m. train into the city to work that she did. Ever since Susan began her job with the United States Department of Commerce the summer before—a job she was hating more and more with each passing day—the stranger stood in the same general vicinity on the platform to catch a train the two shared with the morose mob.
He wore his horsehide coat this morning, Susan thought as she bounced lightly on the tips of her toes trying in vain to keep blood coursing through her extremities. She thought the man might wear his London Fog trench coat that morning. She hoped the snow wouldn’t get any worse, for she was more concerned for the man’s coat than her own struggle to keep warm. The man lifted his left hand to check his watch. As he did a gleam of light glittering off the man’s gold wedding band; Susan noticed. The small spark of life in the cold gray world shot like tiny daggers into Susan’s heart. Again, just as she had done numerous mornings before, Susan sought comfort in her pity. He should really be wearing his gloves, Susan almost said out loud as she saw the man’s pink fingers surrounding the gold band disappear into the deep warm pocket of the coat.
            The train rounded the final turn approaching the station and as the huge metal behemoth slowed, piercing sounds from the train’s whistle ripped the air. The train stopped and the moving mass crept aboard, each rider choosing a place to sit on the cold plastic seats adorned in pastel blues and dull browns, the chosen colors of the Manassas Railway years earlier. The mystery man took a seat as far from the door as possible. Susan McDonald sat on a seat close to him, but not close enough for her to ever speak to the tall man sitting alone on a cold bench. Susan stole one final look almost daring the man to look in her direction before she turned away. The man did not look at Susan, but with suave motions, retrieved a pack of Marlboros from his shirt pocket and lit a cigarette. Susan only heard the sound of expelled carcinogens being released into the frigid air as she nonchalantly looked elsewhere.
            As the train lumbered toward Washington D.C. Susan watched through the small Plexiglas window as the darkened scenery flew by. The divorcee, whose married ended three years earlier when her immature husband finally agreed that it would be better for two people to live miserably apart than miserably together, used the morning commute as an escape. She often pictured the train ride as a representation of a commute to Hell. The though vanished as the train passed another intersection where several cars waited for the train to pass.
Bored by the view, Susan glanced around the car being careful not to catch his attention. In the seat across from Susan sat a woman reading The Washington Post. A headline on the front page below the fold caught the young woman’s attention. The angle was bad so Susan wondered if she read the headline correctly. In a manner as to not give anyone the impression she was doing exactly what she was doing, Susan shifted in her chair and looked again. The bold Bureau Roman font headline read: Arlington N.O.W. Chapter Urge Unwed First-Time Mothers-To-Be To Seek Health Options. Susan could not read the article’s fine print, but felt no need to do so. Right after her divorce Susan attended an event at the Arlington branch of the National Organization of Women. A coworker at the Department of the Interior invited her to a mixer at Ford’s Theater. She went hoping to find a sorority where the E.R.A. and other important women’s issues could be discussed. She left early after finding the whole experience less than uplifting when the atmosphere at the mixer felt more like a political rally and less than an opportunity for educational discussion surrounding the Equal Rights Amendment and its success of actually passing. Susan had not thought about that night for years…how many years, she wondered. Two? Three? How time flies.
            With the interior of the train car offering little as far as mental stimulation, Susan returned to watch the world outside the cold plastic window. She sat backward in the car so that she saw the places the train had just passed. It reminded her of her youth and riding in the backseat of her family’s station wagon. As a child she had loved seeing where she had just been.
            Susan watched the office buildings, storefronts, and front yards fly by, the cold ground matched her spirits. A gleam from the east caught her attention while the aluminum-sided train coursed through the sleepy D.C. suburb; the first golden rays of the morning sun arrived bringing color to the slate-gray countryside.
            As the sun’s ray crept across the landscape, the train headed toward the 14th Street Bridge under which the slow-moving Potomac River silently flowed. Susan scanned the river, transfixed by the millions of light refractions as light and water mixed on the river’s surface. Susan wondered if anyone on the train saw the incredible light show she was now enjoying on this cold April morning. Probably not…
            The train entered the bridge; Susan continued watching the water. The ambient sounds of the train changed as the earth fell away from the tracks and the train crossed the bridge. Susan’s eye focused on the shore quickly retreating in the distance and noticed the land gently rising from the water’s edge. The tranquil vision of the shore was interrupted by the huge metal supports of the bridge which gave the scene an quality similar to watching a movie where the speed in which the human eye processes motion is manipulated and life as processed by the sense of sight no longer reflects a representation of truth.
            As the train continued Susan decided her momentary escape from reality should end. But before she did, she took one last look at the west shore. Something had caught her eye. There was something small that could be seen softly bobbing atop the pristine surface of the water not far from the frosted coast. The distance between Susan and the object made properly identifying the object difficult. Of course, the first thought she had caused Susan to laugh out loud for what Susan thought she saw seemed so out of place that simple logic pushed the idea from her mind. Because what she thought she saw floating tenderly down the Potomac River on that cold April morning was a picnic basket.

*The Award-winning photo was used without permission from the following website:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Maggie's Rain...A Short Story

 Weekly Writing Prompt

This morning I realized I missed last week's weekly writing prompt. It made me sad. I guess Christmas things caused me not to remember the prompt.

But today I noticed that another week will be added to the prompt (maybe other writers had Christmas things make them forget too...). That made me happy. So, here's this week's (and last week's...) entry.

If you're unfamiliar with the writing prompt, here's the rules: 

1) There will be one photo, and five words - both of those elements must be a feature in the brief story you create. 2) There is also a 500 word maximum. 3) You have until the next Wednesday to create your post. 4) When you have finished your post, link up at the following sites: Carrie's Site, Nicole's Site, or Tena's Site and post your story there. 5) We were going to tell you to not take this too seriously, but reconsidered it because we know full well that asking writers to write something means that they will take it seriously. So, take it seriously, but don't fret/panic/pass out/hyperventilate/lose sleep/run in fear over it.
This week's mandatory words:
remote control
Hope you like it!
Maggie's Rain
"Maggie always loved the rain," my daughter said as she watched the rain gently fall from the safety of our front room. I knew she was hurting, the rain being the latest reminder that her best friend, Maggie, a girl the same age as my daughter, moved from from the house next door two weeks earlier. 

"Yeah, she did," I said to her, trying as a father to offer comfort. She had been so sad for so long. Last week it was a dog wandering the area that reminded my daughter of her, it was the rain. "You know, Maggie only lives a couple hours away. I'll bet it's raining where she is."

My daughter looked up at me with sad eyes. "Daddy, I want to go outside. Can I go play in the rain?"

"Uh..."She saw the confusion on my face. "You want to play, jump around in the puddles?"

"No, just stand outside and watch the rain fall. That's all."

"Sure," I said. "But, you'll need an umbrella if you're going to go outside."

"Where's the yellow umbrella with red polka dots that Maggie gave me? I wanna use that."

"Gee, honey. I don't know," I answered honestly. I vaguely remember stowing it somewhere in the garage. "You go get on your red boots while I try to find the umbrella."

"You mean my lobster feet?" my daughter said using the term she made up for her favorite pair of shoes. "Yes, your lobster feet."

I entered the garage hoping my hunch was right. Let's see...where did I put that umbrella? I looked behind some garden tools, a set of luggage, my son's seldom-used skateboard, even a remote control we lost last year. Too bad I spent $20 on that universal remote to replace it.

"Daddy! I'm ready! Did you find Maggie's umbrella?" 

"Not yet," I said.

"Dad..." I looked at my precious daughter. She stood before me with her arms folded over her chest, staring at me as if I had failed some child exam she were giving. "Honey, I'm looking for it. I just can't remember where I put it. Do you think you could help me look?"

"There it is!" she yelled as she pointed to a corner of the garage where I was sure I had just checked. "You're right--it's right there." I walked to the corner, pushed past a rake and a shovel and brought out the yellow umbrella with the red polka dots.

"Here you go," I said as I handed the umbrella to my excited daughter who had to stop jumping up and down in order to it from my hands. 
"You ready?"


"Then go--have fun." My daughter ran outside and quickly opened up the treasured gift. Once outside, standing in the light rain, my daughter began laughing, laughing the way she did when she and Maggie played together. Her laughter was music to my ears.

Word Count: 490

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

An Evolution Of Christmas...

Tonight after the treats were eaten and the kids toys were played with again and again, I stepped outside to snap a few pictures of the Christmas lights (even though there's no "snapping" with an iPhone camera...). I heard voices and looked across the street. Our neighbors must have been having a party and their guest were just leaving. 

 The sight brought back for me a childhood memory. In that house across the street was where I grew up and where, when I was a child, my mom's brother's families would come visit for Christmas. A few years after we moved in my father passed away. For the next several years my aunts, uncles, and cousins spent Christmas Eve with my mom, my brother, and my sister. For the longest time, I thought that's what Christmas was--an extended party with your extended family.


After a couple of years, my cousins no longer spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day with us. I remember I asked my mom why. She said that their kids were getting older and they needed to spend Christmas together with their families. It made me sad, but I came to understand.


In the decades since we were all together for Christmas, our families have grown. Now my cousins are getting to the age where their own kids are having kids and having Christmas Eve and Christmas day at their own homes. Soon, it will happen to us. Our kids will most likely marry and start their own traditions and my wife and I will hopefully come over to visit. Life evolves.

But for now, we enjoyed our day together. The kids allowed us to sleep in. My wife's parents came over and we had a wonderful time. And one day in the future, my children will drive by our house (even if we're no longer living here...) and, if we've done our job, they'll remember those cold December days when we spent Christmas together as a family and hopefully they'll remember that they were good days.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas From A Swede...

I was on Facebook earlier today and I came across this post. It blew me away. And now, a little history...

If you're older than 30 years old, and Swedish, you know who Louis Herrey is. I imagine quite a few Danes and Norwegians know him as well. I met Louis Herrey when the Swede lived briefly in my hometown of Farmington, Utah. I had known about Louis and his famous family ever since I lived in Denmark in the mid-1980's.

You see, Louis was part of a performing group and in 1984 he, along with his two older brothers were the Herrey's. Now, if you're a Swede (or perhaps a Dane or a Norwegian...) older than 30 you might remember this group for they won the 1984 Eurovision Song Contest with their catchy tune, "Diggy Loo, Diggy Ley" (I told you it was catchy...). If you're unfamiliar with the Eurovision contest, Abba won it 10 years earlier. Simply put, it's huge.

With the creation of Facebook I found Louis about a year ago and we befriended each other. Today I came across a post from Mr. Herrey, and it was one of the best things I've read this Christmas Season. I almost responded by calling him a "rock star" which, he's been. I was impressed because it's such a simple thing, giving of one's time...but it can mean so much to someone in need. It's a very charitable thing to do--a Christ-like thing to do.

Louis lives in Sweden and works for his church. He's a very talented photographer, and from what I can see, a level-headed man with a wonderful family. As I write this, it's Christmas Eve here, but Christmas Day is in full swing in Sweden. I'm sure he's enjoying the holiday with his family and loved ones, but I'm also sure, if I felt lonely, Louis would be there for me, because he's a good man. Louis Herrey...God Jul, og Tak!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The White Elephant Game...

The White Elephant surfaces at parties--usually Christmas parties--whether they be at work or home or church or school. I've been to many a Christmas party where we've played the game. Tonight we went to my wife's parent's house and played the game again. Though the rules may be different, the goal, I think, remains a constant...try to take something home better than the sub-standard gift you brought.

At my in-law's house, we roll a set of dice. If you get doubles, you get to chose a gift. After all the gifts are opened, we continue to roll until either a set time limit has been reached or people basically are satisfied with what they got. For us tonight it was the latter.

The kids had fun. The adults had fun, and tonight's White Elephant Game produced, in my opinion, two of the best White Elephant gifts I've ever seen. One we father-in-law ended up with our gift, a six-pack of Kirkland brand Bath Tissue (two layers--you know, the good stuff...).

But the best White Elephant gift came from my mother-in-law, and I was lucky enough to bring the prize home. A decor store in our town is going out of business and she picked up, at a 90% discount, a box of fake cucumbers. Yes, it's a box of fake cucumbers! How cool is that!

And so, the White Elephants have been exchanged for, at least, another year. And who knows... If I'm invited to a similar event at Christmastime in 2013, some lucky person just might be taking home the Holy Grail of White Elephant gifts...the non-edible cucumbers.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

It Wasn't The World That Ended, Just The Show...

 We left the  stage for the final time, tired, exhausted, sad. A group of people--some we knew for years, some we never knew before. With the costumes stowed in the dressing rooms and the props returned to their proper place, we took our place--no longer a part of the show, but as players in our own personal histories, histories we each will carry with us long after the heat from the spotlights dissipates and the hum from the soundboard fades into the blackened air.

We rehearsed for months and performed for weeks. We came to smile at each other behind the curtain as we prepared for each show, each "Remember--it's Opening Night for this audience" speeches, each "if it's not yours, don't touch it" council (wise council for other things as well...), each "West Treat Wednesday," and each "Friday Night at Chili's after the show." We formed friendships and swapped inside jokes, and we were awed by the talent of each other and what the collective created.

No, the world didn't end on December 21, 2012 but the show for our cast did. Each production's like a life. We gather, knowing little, and then we're trained. We practice and find the strengths and weaknesses in ourselves and each other. We compensate and adapt, work hard and succeed. And then it ends and we're sad, for a time. Until, of course, the next show begins. Here's to my cast, my friends, my theater family. Well done. Take care. God bless, and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

How'd You Like To Have Your Work Meeting Here?

For the next few weeks I'm going to post on this blog what I've been writing to promote Bob's Vertical Challenge. For the past few weeks I've done the same (mostly because I haven't had time to write a Friday blog post due to the show my daughter and I have been in...), but it is writing and one of the reasons I keep a daily blog is to make sure I write something everyday.

As far as my question in the title, I'd LOVE to have a meeting at Snowbasin, in winter, on the slopes! The place was a blast when I learned to ski on that mountain over 35 years ago, and it is simply beautiful now. Today I'm trying to reach the business people and offer them an alternative to the boring business meeting. Just click on the title of the post to see the original entry. Join us on the slopes! It'll be fun!

Think Of It As A Strategy Meeting At 10,000 Feet…

Imagine going to work on a winter’s day next February. You’ve got a strategy meeting scheduled. It begins at 9 a.m. As the meeting starts a box of day-old doughnuts stairs up at you from the conference table, but you look outside, outside to the mountains where the snow-covered peaks call out to you, beckon you to respond.

This could be one way to conduct your February meeting, or you could ditch the drab colored walls and stale pastries and join us–join us in the mountains on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 for the 6th Annual Bob’s Vertical Challenge! Have your meeting with us at one of the nation’s premier skiing destinations, Snowbasin Utah. Award your best salespeople, or better yet, sign up multiple teams of four skiers/snowboarders and take on the mountain! Each team that finishes the Vertical Challenge will have skied/snowboarded 100,000 vertical feet in the Greatest Snow On Earth!

And when you do enjoy a fantastic day on the slopes networking and getting to know co-workers and contacts alike, the best part of your time participating will be the help you’ll be giving to deserving kids. All proceeds of Bob’s Vertical Challenge go directly to the Scoutreach program of the Trapper Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Each year many scouts miss out on life-changing experiences due to a lack of funds. You can help these great boys learn more about the world around them, and, more importantly, more about themselves.

Please consider swapping that boardroom for a ski lift and time at the lodge–all for a great cause. For more details, please contact Andrea Abbott at:, or call: 801-447-4200. Imagine–a business meeting like you’ve never had before!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Larry Correia, An Opinion...

Today I came across a blog post from an author of fantasy novels, Larry Correia. I read one of his novels earlier this year. From the picture below you can imagine what Larry wrote about in his blog...guns. Today my co-worker and I had a brief discussion about guns (like probably millions of other people have done in the past week...). After we spoke, I wasn't looking for a blog post about guns, but I found it, and I read it.

I don't get too political on my blog. I figure there's enough people writing political blogs out there that my opinion is not really needed. The reason I'm writing about Larry's post is because it taught me something, and not what Mr. Correia might have intended.

What I learned in Larry's blog is that there's so much I don't know about the guns, gun control, and gun laws. And I thought I did. I grew up in the western United States. To put it simply, it's gun country. In my house growing up we had guns, shotguns, rifles, even hand guns. My father was a cop and even scored the first perfect shooting score in the history of the state of Idaho (he was given a gun as a prize...). My father passed away when I was young and we never discussed the issue, but I felt I understood what his position on the issue would have been.

I would consider Mr. Correia an expert on the subject about which he writes. He's put in time and earned the title. Of course many people don't agree with his opinion, but his knowledge shouldn't be dismissed just because it's unpopular. Would people who had an opposite opinion than that of Mr. Correia even read what he wrote? I think it would be helpful if he did. Of course, this is just my opinion. Whether or not I completely agree with him is not the point I'm trying to make. It's just that the society should be open enough to consider what he has to say.

Larry's post is rather long, but if you're interested in reading it, you can find it: HERE. If you read it, you may consider his point of view disgusting, insightful, or flat-out wrong. I thought it was educational.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Anniversary, Christmas Carol...169 Years And Still Going Strong

According to Wikipedia (and other more reliable sources...) 169 years ago today, 19 December, Chapman and Hall Publishers published Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol." Tonight me and about 40 other friends performed an adaptation of this classic work. During the show I snapped a couple of pictures.


While surfing the interwebs I also found an interesting website from The Telegraph. "10 Things You Never Knew About Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol." You can access the site: HERE. There's details of his actions while writing the story, things he did while performing it on stage, as well as information about the story being involved in a piracy lawsuit (in which Dickens won...), and other interesting facts. Check it out--it's fun.

I know I've written so much about this production my daughter and I are doing this month. Doing a show like this requires so much time, but, as with anything we do in life, the more you put into something, the more you get out of it. Each time I do a show, I have so many fun memories. Writing about them and taking pictures helps preserve these memories for me, and hopefully, for others.

Today, and the anniversary of this wonderful story, I just wanted to say something about the man who made not only this show possible, but so many other literary classics. Thank you Charles Dickens! For everything!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Are Thrift Store Items More Valuable?

So, this is what happened. I have an odd-shaped cell phone, and what I mean by that is the phone is regular shaped (rectangular...) but since it's not an iPhone, a Galaxy, or a Droid, there are not a lot of quality phone cases out there. Sure, there are a million of them at the Dollar Store (I ended up buying one...), but when you pay good money for a phone, you want something that costs more than a dollar to protect it.

Unless, of course, you are lucky enough to find the perfect item at a thrift store, which I did a few months ago. I remember thinking when I saw it sitting among other "stuff" on the thrift store shelf that I was indeed fortunate to have scored such a find.

Which brings me to last Sunday night. I was running an errand (actually handing our holiday hams to families in the neighborhood, or as one of my good friends called them "the inactive hams," which is another blog post all by itself...) and when we were done, I noticed my phone case was missing. I made a call earlier and just put the phone in my pocket. The case on my belt dropped off when we were visiting people who weren't home. I drove around to the various homes we visited to see if I could spot the case, but I couldn't see a small black item in poorly lit areas at night.

Losing the case bummed me out a bit, and then I asked myself, why? It only cost me a dollar at the thrift store. But what was its real value? I could always use my original dollar store phone case again until I found another nice case at the thrift store. I might get lucky again, but it's rare to find one as nice again.

To me the rarity of the item established its value. The cost was a secondary consideration. So thrift store items have the possibility of being worth more than you'd think. The good news...the morning after I got in the car and saw the case at one of the homes we visited the night before. I'm glad the phone wasn't in it...someone drove over it with their car.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Clearing The Path...

There was a break in the storm today so I took the opportunity to clear the path leading to the community winter sledding hill. It was needed. As autumn wound down I pulled a couple of rather large sunflower plants and it was my intention to put them in the trash.

Needless to say, it wasn't done and the first big storm hit with no access to the hill. People improvised which could have proved disastrous. The area the people chose had several large rocks hiding under the snow. We're lucky no one got hurt.

So I knew it had to be cleaned and today was the day. 30 minutes and a couple of scratched arms later I had a nice tidy bundle of once hindering twigs and branches stacked to the side. Good began snowing an hour later. We're ready for the crowds--bring on the snow!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Karaoke Night...

I remember the last time I went to Karaoke Night at the theater three years ago. It was strange. After our show had ended, we got together and people got up and sang, mostly show tunes. I remember sitting there thinking how strange it was that all the singers participating had all these songs memorized that they could just sing them at the drop of a hat. Then again, the singers were so talented and have done many, many shows that maybe they could just sing songs at the drop of a hat. I wanted to join them, but I just didn't have anything ready. I wished I could be like everyone else.

Fast forward three years and another Karaoke Night was announced. This time, I found out more about how Karaoke Night functioned. You see, this time before Karaoke Night, we were told for those who wished to participate, we were to come with a minus track of the song we wanted to sing. Now it all made sense. The first time I didn't know the performers had rehearsed and practiced and came prepared. It was like a light was turned on and I was no longer in the dark.

Since it bugged me last time, I decided I wanted to sing something this time. Last night I did thanks to my friend, the talented Mr. Todd Wente. He and I were in a show the summer of 2011 and we sang a song from that show. I was never nervous singing the song in front of an audience when we did the show, but last night, it was a different story. The people in our casts are so talented...singing for them was a tad daunting. Thanks to Todd (who found the music for us...), I think it went pretty well.

Thanks to everyone who stayed after last night's show. The songs were fantastic and you made me not only understand Karaoke Night, but let me take the stage with you.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Decorating Elves...

"Hey," my mother-in-law said as my wife and I prepared to drive away from her house a few weeks go. "Maybe your kids could come over and decorate while we're gone." It had been established earlier that our kids would put up my in-law's Christmas decorations. It's a family Christmas tradition that's only a couple of years old now.

"Yeah..." we said. "That would be a good time to do it." And so my in-laws left town for the weekend and we invaded their house. Since we decorated last year, I thought decoration this year would be a piece of "fruit" cake (so, so sorry for that...). It turns out, it wasn't as easy as I thought i would be. Last year, the in-laws were there to help out. This year, we were on our own.

We brought up the tree from the basement and retrieved all the boxes from under the stairs. As we opened up box after box, I came to realize that they have a lot of decorations and finding places for everything was going to be a challenge. For example, they have a very cool lighted red chili peppers set, and I thought I remembered it hanging in their kitchen. Well, I saw a place above the sink where I could hang the clump of lights. I had to remove the dish scrubbing brush but it looked good. I worried that my mother-in-law needed the brush to be in that specific spot--it was a silly thought I had, I know, but some people are particular about things...

Eventually we found places for most of the decorations. When we were done we returned the boxes to the basement, unplugged all the lights and left. We had to wait until the in-laws returned until we found out if our efforts were acceptable.

Not only were they acceptable, I have it on good authority that the results were very well received. In fact. they loved it (even the hanging lighted red chili peppers...). Mission accomplished.