Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Proven Wrong...By The Worker At Wendys

On Mondays things are a tad hectic at the Taylor household. Actually, the hectic-ness extends to beyond the walls of our home--extends to the theater and to where we decide to pick up dinner.

My daughter and I are currently in a local production of A Christmas Carol. We do the shows Monday/Wednesday/Friday nights. My daughter has dance rehearsal until 6pm on Mondays. Call time for us to be at the theater is 6pm. So, on our first show of the week I leave earlier than normal, stop by a fast food establishment, and order my daughter dinner. For the past two weeks, I've stopped at a local Wendys restaurant.

Funny, how you learn things in the strangest places.

Two Mondays ago I got us food--to go--then picked up my daughter. Thinking I would eat a little healthier than normal, I ordered a side salad to offset the ill effects of the spicy chicken sandwich I also ordered for myself. I took the food, jumped in the car, and when time came to eat, I found no fork in the bag.

Ever tried to eat a salad sans fork?

My son had to do it on our return trip from Seattle back in September. My daughter, son, and I laughed as he told us he forgot to get a fork and we watched him eat each lettuce leaf with his fingers. When it happened to me, it wasn't as funny. As I looked down at my fork-less salad, I wondered if the worker forgot to give me a fork. That must have been it.

This last Monday I found myself at the same Wendys. Once again I ordered a salad. This time I took a picture of the drink counter. I took the picture because I didn't see any forks, spoons, knives, or anything other than stuff for drinks. I had proof the worker failed to give me a fork. The order came, I checked before I left and once again--no fork.

"Um, can I get a fork?" I asked, thinking the worker had once again forgotten an essential tool I needed to enjoy my tasty food.

That's when he casually pointed to his right.

"You can get a fork right there."

Duh! I said to myself. I had not noticed either the week before or this time the other table loaded with everything I'd need to eat my food. Forks, spoons, knives, napkins, straws, ketchup--it was all there.

Funny, how you learn things in the strangest places.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

At Work Just How Cold...Is Cold?

I've written about being cold at work before. It's not a big deal. I could appeal to HR to get a portable heater, but that requires seeing a doctor and having to be diagnosed with an actual medical condition that requires me to have a heater. I do a fleece jacket that I keep at work for just such circumstances. I've been wearing it for the past couple of months. Our autumn was mild, as autumns in Utah go. But this week it's turned cold. 

My little jacket no longer keeps me warm.

A few years back the building where I worked had their heater die in the winter. It got so bad I had to wear gloves in order get my work done. It hasn't gotten that bad where I'm working now, but this morning I wondered just how cold it was in my cubicle. On my way back from lunch, I stopped by a local hardware store and for a few dollars picked up a thermometer.

The question I now have is, how cold is cold?

The temperature at my cubicle for most of the day was 70º Fahrenheit. Usually the mornings are worse and I got the thermometer at noon. I'll have to see what tomorrow brings. Since I've never had a thermometer at work before, I can't tell if 70º is warm enough or should I feel slighted that my cubicle is colder than other places in the building?

Truth is, this whole experiment is mostly for fun. I've put up with it being a little chilly for years. And I hardly expect the company to make massive changes just to raise the temperature in my area a few degrees warmer. Tomorrow I'm going to also take the thermometer to areas I know are warmer to see just how much warmer they are. Again, it's for fun. Maybe after doing more amateur sleuthing, I will know just how cold at cold at work.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Frosted Beauty...In The Haze

I know many people who hate the weather we had in Northern Utah today. They hate the cold. They hate the smog. They hate the inversion. They hate the frost.

I love it!

I don't know when exactly I came to love this kind of weather, but I remember one time back when I was in high school. For some reason I noticed everything around me on that cold morning. I noticed everything because everything I could see was covered in frost.

It looked amazing!

Trees, cars, grass, nothing was spared. This morning I didn't know if we'd get the same effect. I drove to work in a thick fog--sometimes the sun comes out and burns off the fog and frost. Not today. Today everything stayed covered in ice. I went out on my lunch break and snapped a few pictures. They weren't the best subjects, but I loved seeing how everything looked.

The trees made me think of a childhood memory, too. When I was young, we had a basement full of incredible things. My dad was sort of a hoarder and most of what he collected I didn't have the understanding or experience to know what they were. I did come across two boxes--maybe a foot square--that contained flock. I asked my mom what they were and she told me my dad bought these boxes in case he wanted to flock a Christmas tree. Since it was most likely a product of the 1960s, I have no idea what kind of poisons those boxes contained. We never did use it--probably for the best. And as I walked around the business offices, I thought back on those boxes...strange memory recall.

Yes, many people will take to social media and complain about the cold and the fog, but on days like this, I think outside becomes absolutely beautiful.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

We're Invited To A Christmas Party...And Those Doing The Inviting Have No Idea Who We Are

The first e-mail came yesterday around 2:30 in the afternoon. We were being invited to a Taylor Family Christmas party. At first, I was glad. I mean, who doesn't like getting an invite to a party, especially a Christmas party surrounded by family, loved ones, and good food?

The only problem with this one is, I have no idea who these people are.

I don't know a Jamie or a Jason Taylor. I thought maybe it was one of my father's extended family--since he had eleven siblings, there might be a Jamie and/or Jason Taylor out there who are family and who might be inviting us to a get-together, a slight chance, but a chance nonetheless.

Next, I checked the other eight e-mail addresses to see if I recognized any of them. None looked familiar. It was obvious, they sent this invite to the wrong Taylors.

I thought it necessary to e-mail Jason back letting him know that they had made a mistake inviting us. I'd hate for them to think an invitation they they thought they'd sent was not delivered. So, I responded, thanking them, letting them know the food and fun sounded great, but unfortunately, their e-mail went to the wrong place.

I thought the whole thing was over. 

Until last night.

That's when the first of the response e-mails came in. It basically said they couldn't wait for the party. Today we got another response. This time Natalie will have out-of-town guest and may not be able to make it.

After I got the latest response, I did some investigating. I went on Facebook and after some investigating, I found Jamie and Jason. They live halfway across the country. The seem like nice people. It would be fun to show up at 1pm on Saturday, December 30th and crash their party. Technically, it wouldn't be crashing--we were invited, after all.

If I only knew where Jamie and Jason live...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Star Wars Space Punch...Yeah

After a long Saturday of laundry, grocery runs, and putting up outdoor Christmas lights, I needed something to drink. And I was enticed by the "impulse buy" display at the local Chevron. The product: Star Wars Space Punch.

Yeah, it's a thing.

And when you think Star Wars, you'd better think collectable, too. I guess they would like all Star Wars fans to collect all the different editions of their vitamin drink. I'm not a collector so I'll not be participating in collecting part.

I did, however, choose the Mellenium Falcon can. I thought it fitting because the Falcon, a ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, surely added a lot of space punch in its many adventures.

So, serious question for all you collectors out there. Are you supposed to collect and keep unopened cans of this stuff, or drink it and keep the cans? I honestly don't know.

You may be wondering what the stuff tastes like. It's fruity, was my first impression. I read the ingredients before buying. Most of it looked pretty good. The only drawback was the 20 Calories note on the side of the can. 



And I was right. It tastes good, but there's a "missing real sugar sweetener" issue for me. Why didn't they load it up with 100% cane sugar from Hawaii? Even though real sugar isn't the best thing, it's much better than artificial stuff imo.

My conclusion: I won't be buying it again. It's not my thing. But if you like carbonated fruity Star Wars-themed diet drinks, I say go for it. And if you're collecting post-drank scifi-labeled aluminum cans, let me know. I'll keep it for you instead of just tossing it into the recycle bin.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Getting This Year's Christmas Tree...At Costco

Things have been a little different preparing for this year's Christmas. It's little things that have caused me to be busier than I normally am. I'm in no way complaining, it's just different.

We would have liked to have gotten our lights up and a tree bought last week, but that was just not possible. We decided this was the weekend to do all that, and since tomorrow is going to be a little less hectic than today, tomorrow was going to be the day.

That is, until I went to Costco.

If you had asked me last week if I thought Costco sold Christmas trees, I would have not believed it. I should have believed it--they sell so many other things. We went there this afternoon looking to buy something else, my daughter and I turned a corner, and boom--there it was, along with other trees lying on a big orange cart.

After a few texts back and forth to my wife (complete with several photos...), the decision was made. I bought it, took it to the car, hoisted it up, tied it down, and drove away. It's now in the house waiting to be trimmed, and it makes the front room smell heavenly.

Usually we go to a place that brings trees down from Montana. We've been so pleased with them in the past. We did get a tree a few years ago from our local grocery store. That one turned out to be a pretty good tree. We hope this one does to.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Did You Have This Record...And Did You Follow The Instructions?

My wife and I were talking about Christmas songs tonight, and my mind flew back to when I was a kid. A distinct memory entered my mind, a memory of laying down on the big couch in our front room and listening to one record, a Christmas record over and over again.

The record? Holiday, Sing Along With Mitch

Looking back, it seems strange that a eight to fourteen-year old boy would listen to big-band songs that are just a step or two above elevator music. I think of my boys--the thought of them calling this "entertainment" seems laughable.

But in my defense, there weren't a lot of options.

This would have been the mid to late 1970s. The internet as we know it was decades away. This was even before cable television. A High Fidelity, or "Hi-Fi" system was about as good as it got for home entertainment. We had no VCRs, no Blockbuster videos. If you wanted to listen to something, you had to buy it, or hope it came on the radio. My mom bought Mitch's holiday spectacular and it was my Christmas jam.

I wonder a lot about my childhood, especially watching my own kids grow up. I see what they have now, and the things me and my friends didn't have. I wonder if--even with all the games and internet and YouTube videos available to them today--are they better off? Or is there something sweet and innocent about a boy laying on the couch as Mitch and his orchestra crank out holiday favorites, something a pre-teenager wouldn't understand, something maybe gone and lost forever.

The album was most likely tossed or donated to a thrift store years ago. The hi-fi system is probably rotting in a landfill somewhere, its carcass of plastic, wood siding (I think...), and maybe even vacuum tubes having long lived out its usefulness. The memories, however, they remain. I hope they always will.

And I'm pretty sure I did follow Mr. Miller's instructions and sang along with him and his music.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

That Sandwich Shop...What Once Was

Back in 2013 I worked on a computer program re-build team. Our building was downtown and the small group of us were pretty tight, sometimes going to lunch together. One day we had a meeting at a building on the west side of the city, out by the airport. After, we wondered where we could go to lunch. It was suggested we go to a small place out by the building called, That Sandwich Shop (you can read about my blog post on it: HERE...)

We stopped for lunch.

And I loved it!

Granted, I'm a sucker for a good sandwich and they delivered.

Fast forward four years and I found myself transferred to that same building where we had our meeting back in 2013. As far as places to eat, there's not a lot of options that don't involved driving. That doesn't really work for me because I usually take public transportation to get to work. I was excited about the small sandwich shop, though when I found out about the transfer. And it's one of the few places within walking distance.

Even though I went there before, I wasn't quite sure where the place was. I remember it was white and small and on the main street. After a few times looking for it, I finally noticed the building. It was That Sandwich Shop no more. 

It's closed. No more sandwiches from them.

Today I ventured out into the crisp December air and I walked by the old shop. Apparently a fire closed down the place, and if you know for sure why it closed and I'm wrong, I apologize. I wish I could have visited more, tried other items on the menu. But I suppose that's life. One day I'll no longer show up at my building and do my work. It will happen. The question I have is, will I wish I could have visited more? Time will tell.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How Did My NaNoWriMo Month Go? Depends On How You Look At It...

I had high hopes, I did. Sometimes even the best plans don't work out. I knew it would be difficult going in, but I wanted to try anyway.

Turns out, if you're going by the number of words I wrote, I had a disastrous month. I pretty much didn't do any. I began the story, got a cool opening scene, and then...

Life happened.

Since I was successful in last year's attempt to complete the "write a novel in a month" challenge, I thought doing it a second time would be perhaps easier. After all, if I can do something once, I can do it again. I didn't anticipate issues beyond my control that had been able to foresee, I probably wouldn't have even considered taking up the challenge.

But, the challenge is really kind of a dumb thing, anyway. I mean, if you're a writer, your number one thing--no, it's really the only thing that you should do. You don't need a month-long challenge to accomplish that goal. And many writers that I know think the whole NaNoWriMo is just--to quote Peanuts's Lucy--"a big commercial racket." I can still see good things coming from NaNoWriMo, but I can see the other side, too.

This year, I still have the story germinating in my mind--it's just not in the computer. I have a lot of stories like that. Last year my hard work taught me just what was possible. This year, my inaction taught me that somethings are more important than writing, things like family.

As November came to a close, I thought about making December a new NaNoWriMo month. How's it going, you ask? 

About as well as November went.

So far.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Little Decorating At Work...And What It Means

I didn't even realize it was December when I came to work this morning. You'd think the snowy roads would have given me a hint. Many of my co-workers welcomed the new month while at work last Friday. I did not, so it wasn't until a co-worker tossed me a Christmas stocking to hang in my cubicle that I realized it was time to decorate.

Just like Halloween, I know there are others in my building that will go all out. Downstairs they have a completely decorated Christmas tree and a fake fireplace with stockings hanging over wood logs covered with Christmas lights. There's no way I'm doing that. My small knick-knacks will have to do.

I almost forgot that last year, after the holidays, I packed up my items--including the wrapping paper--and put them in a drawer. It made it easy to put things up this year.

No, my little displays will not win any awards, but it will allow me to remember what's really important, that there's a season of the year that should bring out the best in us, a time when we do tings for others first, and the world becomes a better place.

If only we could keep doing it all year long. Maybe, after the time off, the food, the presents, the hanging out with friends and family, I didn't put things in a drawer for next year. I know I'd get some strange looks, but to keep that message going, it just might be worth it.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Multiple Cars...Multiple Uses

I took a picture of all three of our cars this morning. I did it because yesterday I drove each car to run errands. I could have only driven one car, but where's the fun in that?

It's strange to have three vehicles. There's the family van which is needed since there are six of us. There's my car--the Pontiac Vibe, small, economical, and along with the van, built by Toyota so they're reliable. Our third car is a Ford, a Taurus about one year older than my Vibe and five years older than the van. The Ford is a car we didn't absolutely need, but circumstances were favorable for us to buy it. The cars aren't new, but they're paid for. Not having a car payment is a wonderful thing.

For the past two days I was needed to act as chauffeur, mostly for our daughter. We went to a job interview, went to the theatre multiple times, dropped her off at dance rehearsal, and a voice lesson. I also needed to pick up groceries. Each car has its own pros and cons. I also needed to fill a couple of them up with gas.

When I lived in Europe decades ago a car meant something different than it does in America. I'm not sure how it is now over there, but back in the 1980s having a car was a big deal. They cost more to buy, to operate, and to fill up with gas. Even before I went there I used to drive cars that cost around $500. Okay--they were VW Bugs and you could get one for that price. I bought my first car for $500 when I was sixteen. Sure, it wasn't new, but it was a car.

In the coming months and years our family will change. If one of the kids moves away they'll mostly likely take of of the cars with them. And because they're cars and break down from time to time, we know they won't last forever so when the time comes, we'll need to make a choice--replace or get by.  I guess we'll make that decision when that happens.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Behind The Scenes...At The Theatre

When you put on a Christmas show in December, it's bound to be popular. It's one of the sure things you can count on. And because of this popularity, additional shows are usually requried. The best time to do this is on Saturday afternoons when the theatre adds...matinees.

Today, we did our first matinee. We've got another one in two weeks.

After the show the theatre fed the cast--a very nice and cool thing for them to do. I took out the phone and snapped a few pictures. Oh, and it was "Pajama Day" at the theatre, in case you were wondering.

These people donate their time, their talents, being away from their family and friends to help add something special to the guests and patrons of the theatre. And as special as the experiences we share on stage are, it's what happens behind the scenes that help make people of different backgrounds, ages, religions, political affiliations, and races all come together for a common goal, to put on the best show they can. It's what makes us a theatre family.

For the life of me though, I can't figure out how anyone would think that putting their costume is a refrigerator or a freezer is a good idea.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Resurrecting The Beast...

It began when I saw a Black Friday deal for a keyboard protector. We ordered it. It arrived yesterday. The only problem was it protected not the new Macbook I bought a year ago, but the one I bought many years ago that I used so much the letters on some of the keys were beginning to deteriorate. 


These things happen. Good thing the keyboard cover was only a couple of bucks. But since I had the new keyboard cover, I wondered if I should drag the old computer out of storage and see if I could use it in some way. We've thought about cleaning it up and letting one of my kids use it, but we haven't done anything about it. I thought I'd try.

I probably should have kept it in storage.

I hooked up the charger and fired up the computer. I love that laptop--my first published stories were cranked out on that thing. I started my daily blog and wrote every day on it. It just got too slow. I put on the keyboard cover and started to clean it up.

The first thing it wanted me to do was upgrade. The first couple of things worked well. It was still slow, but I considered re-setting it to factory standards--whipping it clean. The next thing it asked me to do was upgrade to the latest operating system. That's when it didn't quite work. Now, each time I try it tells me it won't work. I suppose I could take it down to the Apple Store and have them clean it up. Maybe I will. And there's a possibility that I can figure out how to fix it, too. It'll take some time and time is short right now.

The new Macbook is working great. I guess a day will come when it no longer operates at peak performance. Will I stow this one away as well? Time will tell.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Not Where...But WHEN Has The Worst Drivers?

Every now and again a "news" item will show up with the newest survey proclaiming this group or that group as the best and/or worst drivers in the country. Personally, I think these surveys are a way to get people to click on their sites. I'm not a person who studies surveys or one who participates in them, so I cannot speak to the validity of their findings, but for a person on the outside looking in, here's how they go:

Survey headline: Utah drivers are the worst drivers in the nation!

People read that which generates the typical responses. Here's how they go:

Response: I agree! I'm from California and I now live in Utah and Utah drivers ARE the worst!

Or, you get: I disagree! I lived in California for 3 months and they are MUCH worse than Utah drivers.

Then people pile on with either AGREE nor DISAGREE takes. The real questions is, do these surveys and expected responses helpful at all? Or are they a way to get people to click on their site and get in arguments about what is right and what isn't?

I don't have any answers for those questions. I have opinions, of course, but no hard and fast answers. And one of my opinions on driving is this--it's not necessarily where people live that make them bad drivers (major blanket statement coming...), but it's when people drive makes a bigger difference in the driving habits.

I got my drivers license in 1982. Since then I've driven mostly in Utah, a little in Colorado and in Europe. I've shared the road with friendly drivers, jerk drivers, considerate drivers, clueless drivers. And, I must admit, I've been guilty of being every one of those drivers before, less you think I'm putting my driving skills above all others.

I've noticed that the least aware drivers are on the road during non-drive by times. Now, I know I'm being judgemental, but it just seems the drivers are not paying as much attention as others. I do have another theory--a sub-theory--that many of the drivers on the road between 9am and 3pm have a lot of time to get wherever they're going and I suspect many have really no where to go anyway. At least, that's how they seem to operate their cars.

These are my opinions. They're only backed by my observations. And I'm sure as I get older and have more time to drive during non-drive-time hours, I'll probably look at everybody else and ask, "What's the hurry? Sheesh!"

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Joy Of Receiving A New Hat...It's Witchin'!

I like hats the way some women like shoes. I don't mean to sound sexist, but I do know many women--more than an average man--who love shoes, almost to an obsession. Maybe I like hats because for most people--men and women alike--they are used to having something atop their heads, be it a hat, a hood, or hair.

Me...what once was there no longer is.

I do the next best thing--I wear a hat almost everywhere I go.

There are a couple of practical reasons I wear hats. In the winters it keeps rain/snow off my head and helps keep me warm. In the summers it shields my unshielded head from the sun. Those who've experienced sunburns on their scalp know it's extremely unpleasant. A hat protects me from that. And I wear hats in the spring and fall because you just never know.

Earlier this month I was made aware that I won something in Dave Butler's Twitchy Eye drawing. Those of us who posted reviews of his phenomenal book were eligible for the drawing. I won a hat! Today my hat was delivered to my house and the moment I got home, I donned the black and gold chapeau (in keeping with the New Orleans vibe of the book...).

Even though I like hats, I do not have as many hats as some have shoes. I probably have twenty or so hats, most of them being baseball caps. I try to wear hats that will match with whatever I'm wearing. My Witchy Eye Pistols cap is black. Most of what I wear goes with black, so theoretically, I'll be able to wear this particular hat with most of my wardrobe. That's a win-win-win in my book.

Like new shoes, I'll need to break in the hat. It's stiff right now--some might say like Dave's book when you first pick it up. It's a little ridged, unyielding, stubborn. However, like Dave's book, it adjusts, conforms, yields to the shape of my head. For me, Witchy Eye was an exciting yet daunting book. It's a good read--reading it is sort of like eating a Thanksgiving meal--once you're done, you know you've finished something weighty, something substantial.

So thanks Dave for the hat! I'll wear it with pride and all those who see me coming and wonder about the crossed guns will hopefully see me pass and know from whence the pistols came...from a great book written by Dave Butler titled Witchy Eye.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Feeling Quirky? There's A Game Store For That...

I saw the post on Facebook that my friend Craig Nybo was opening up a game store. If you know Craig, you also know that taking on yet another project is not surprising. He could say he's training to be an astronaut and you'd think, "Yeah, that makes sense."

I thought I should blog about this new venture so I began to write using pictures Craig posted on Facebook when I thought, "Why don't I just drive over there--it's only one town over."

That's what I did. I grabbed my youngest, we jumped in the car, and took the road I used to take to go to high school and stopped at Quirky Engine Entertainment Family Games. It's right next to the famous Kaysville Theater--you can't miss it!

And fortunately, Craig was there. I love chatting with Craig. Talk about talented! The guy writes novels--good novels. He creates amazing music, and puts on one heck of a show each year at his Gangrene Film Festival. He also makes games on the side. Quirky Engine is packed with games that the family will enjoy. There's little-known but great titles. There's puzzles, t-shirts, and books as well.

One of the coolest things is the Quirky Game Finder. This magical device will find the perfect game for you. Just enter your price range, age range, and number of people, click the button and...voila! It tells you what game you should get and that game is in the store!

If you live near Davis County and you're looking for a perfect Christmas or Hanukkah gift, check out Quirky Engine Entertainment Family Games. You can get more information: HERE (Facebook) and: HERE (company website). Put more FUN in you life--Play a Game!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Thinking About My Parents...On My Birthday

As I drove to work this morning I thought about my parents. I don't know what other people think about on their birthdays, but for me, I think about them a lot. It makes sense, especially since I was adopted. I also think about my birth parents from time to time, but then my thoughts always drift to the two people who made the decision to take me into not only their home, but their hearts.

I continued on through the dark and light traffic. I wondered what it must be like to go through the process of adoption. I know a lot has changed since the mid-1960s when it comes to adoption. I don't believe there existed a thing called an "open adoption" back then. Maybe if my birth parents wanted to, they could have kept in touch with my adopting paretns, but I think that's more of a modern construct.

So, since the parents who raised me were not at the hospital. They didn't now I was coming. From what I've been told, they got a call saying I was available and they left right then and drove straight to the hospital to pick me up. That sounds so foreign now. I wonder which is better, not knowing the birth parents, not forming a relationship with them. I can only speak from my perspective. I never felt slighted because I didn't know them. For me, I never wanted to necessarily know who they were, and thanks to my parents, I never blamed them--or my adoptive parents--for any reason. It was just the way things were.

My parents brought me home, fed me, clothed me, accepted me as one of theirs. I've always been proud of my last name. It's the only last name that I've ever had, the only name I've been called. They accepted the responsibility to keep me safe, keep me sheltered, protected from all enemies, real or imagined. And I'll forever love them for it.

They're both gone, my parents. One I knew very little, the other who became both mother and father to me and my siblings. My wife and I have four children. We love them more than anything else in the world. They are not just spiritually connected to us, but also by blood. I've always felt that connection to my parents, even though DNA would say otherwise. But what does it know, anyway?

I pulled into work this morning thankful for those two people who risked everything for the most defenseless person possible. And I feel even more blessed on the day I was born fifty-two years ago. Thank you Harry and Lois. I'll never be able to fully repay you. I can only give you my heart.