Tuesday, February 28, 2017

On A Clear Day...There's A Lot To See

In the winter, due to the seasons and where we are on Earth's latitude, we have less sunlight than we do in the summer. It's normal and you get used to it, if you live here, that is. Even though the days are getting longer, I still go to work in the dark, and last month, I would be coming home at dusk or in the dark. Doesn't give a photographer a lot to shoot.

But today, I came home a little early to take care of some things. And because the trains don't run as often before rush hour, I had time to look around and see some of the things I usually rush by. We've had storms the past couple of days. Many people hate the snow, but the sky's so clear and amazing afterwards. Today I saw hues of blue and teal. I doubt I could capture it with my camera.

A building is going up right next to the train platform. I took pictures of that. The train station where I get off the train has a bridge we must cross to reach the tracks. Even though it's a pain to climb the stairs, I love it. I've taken several pictures from it, around it, and of it.

And just before I went to my car, I saw a couple of bikes parked at a bike rack, locked together. There's a story of those bikes, a parent (or sibling or friend...) and child making a trip to the train to station to go on a grand adventure. It's amazing what's you can see...

On a clear day.

Monday, February 27, 2017

If You Haven't Seen CPT's "Mary Poppins"...You Should!

Last Friday on Opening Night, I attending Centerpoint Legacy Theatre's Mary Poppins. I'm so glad I did.

Since I have tickets to this year's season, I was planning on seeing the show anyway. But I got to see Friday's show in exchange for a review. I sent in my review Saturday and I'm waiting to see it published online. And because of that, I won't include much of what I wrote in that review.

What I can say is that I thoroughly loved the show. I thought I knew the play. I knew some, like the songs, but much of the show I didn't know, so it was like I was experiencing the story for the first time. The voices of the leads and secondary characters were all strong, almost without exception. The dances were fantastic, and the sets were beautiful.

When I was asked to do the review, one of the things they wanted me to consider was the theater's interaction with the community. On Opening Night, the theater took fifteen minutes to honor one of its performers who passed away last fall. His desire was to be a chimneysweep in this show, but he never got the chance. And so, to help honor his wish, they told us all of his story and set aside one chair on the front row. They decorated it with a broom and made it something special to honor his memory. To me, that showed just how much the community means to the theater, and what a beautiful way to show it.

The show goes until March 25 with matinees on March 3 and March 11. It's a beautiful show with heavenly voices and dances that will make you want to join in.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

All Things Change...Some Quicker Than Others

On Friday I went with my wife to pick up dinner at the shopping center near our home. As I waited I looked east and saw the mountain on which we live covered in a blanket of white, the setting sun made it come alive.

It was beautiful.

It struck me tonight, as I looked back on some of the pictures I took this week, just how much things have changed. We'd heard about the shopping center for years and it took many more for it to be built. Before that, the only company I would have had at exact spot where I stood were cows, and the only food to eat, the grass on which they grazed.

We all know things change; it's the only constant. Even the mountains will erode over time, but for now, at at a distance, they look pretty much the same way they did in photographs taken a century ago. 

Somewhere, just above the buildings sits our house. It'll be gone one day, too. I don't know if it will be replaced, or if not. I suppose by then, I won't care. Just as the shopping center will one day go. Who knows, maybe it'll be bulldozed over to make room for cows to graze. Wouldn't that be something?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Car...The Town...The Memories

Right now, I'm sitting in my car in a LDS church parking lot as I write this blog post. The church is across the street from Sky View High School in Smithfield, Utah, and I'm at the church parking lot because I can't get wi-fi at the school. At that school, several hundred ballroom dancers and their friends and family are getting ready for tonight's dances.

What does that have to do with an old Volkswagen Beetle?

Good question.

It was about this time of year, 1987, thirty years ago, I found myself in Smithfield Utah. My brother said he had seen an old VW Bug for sale in Smithfield. He was living in Logan Utah, at the time, and going to school. Smithfield is a few miles north of Logan. I had just returned form my LDS church mission and I needed a car. I thought I'd drive up and give it a look.

I saw it, an orange 1972 VW Bug, and I bought it. I think it cost me $500. Imagine buying a working, drivable VW classic beetle for $500. Back then, those cars were all over the place for that price, and cheaper. Now, they're several thousand, even if they're junk.

I had my cousin paint it a beautiful red. If Facebook (or, the internet, for that matter...) existed back then, I'd have posted many a picture of that car. It really looked good. I drove it for several years. It was definitely more reliable than the 1965 VW Bug I had in high school.

I posted a picture of an old bug a few days ago. It's parked at a garage that's next to the dance studio where my daughter trains. It's a beat-up car, but I think it's beautiful. As my daughter and I entered Smithfield this morning, I almost expected an orange bug to be parked by the side of the road waiting for someone to swoop in an buy it. Of course, there was no orange bug.

But if there were, I would have probably done the same thing I did thirty years ago this month.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Getting In Shape...Again

There's probably three or four times in the past twenty-plus years I've been in good shape. I remember when we were building our house, my wife and I worked several hours every day but Sunday. We ate fast food almost every night and worked our butts off. I even got my cholesterol checked during that year and they said whatever I was doing, I should keep doing it because my levels were great. I never told them what I was eating because they always say never to eat that food.

A few years later I did a show, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The chirographer worked us nearly to death. During the two-month rehearsal period I lost twenty pounds. It's no wonder--we were doing a continual cardio session for several hours each night. I've done several shows since then and never had results like that.

The most recent time I was in pretty good shape was when I participated in my first and only Ragnar race. My friend asked me if I wanted to join their team about two or three weeks before the race. I ended up running about twenty or thirty miles to prepare.

But after that, I stopped running.

There's always a goal to return, to put on my running shoes and just go for it, but then I get home after a ten-hour shift and I'm just tired. I know it's not a good excuse, but it is an excuse. This past week I've returned to running, not a lot, but some. I ran my first mile and then stopped. And I've run several miles since. So far, so good. I wonder if I'll look back on this time as one of the times I actually got into shape, or if I'll say that this was the end of me not being in shape. Time will tell.

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.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hey...You Want A Fridge?

If you're looking for a fridge, we've got the fridge for you! Yes, due to an influx of fridges in our house, we've got one that needs a good home. And you can be the one to provide that good home our deserving fridge needs.

As you know, not all fridges are made the same. No, and don't you believe anyone who tells you different. Because we all know Norge Refrigerators are the best--hands down! Those Vikings (or people who work for a company with a Scandinavian name...) make the best cold-producing appliances. It's only natural--they live in the cold most of the year! Who else knows snow, cold, and frozen things better than someone living in Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland or Denmark?

The answer:

No one!

And this fridge comes with Features! Lots of features, like both a refrigerator and freezer section so your cold stuff can stay cold and your frozen stuff can stay frozen--all you need is electricity (not included...). 

Yes, if you are in need of a secondary fridge, or even a main fridge, contact us as soon as possible. Good smaller non-water-and-ice-dispensing Norge fridges with features don't last long.

But seriously, if you need a reliable garage or basement fridge, it's yours--just come and get it. The price (gratis...) can't be beat. Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I Saw The Shot...And I Took It

This last Sunday I looked up and I saw it, I saw the picture, or the makings of what could be a great picture. I think if I were a professional photographer, I'd spend all day looking for interesting (and marketable...) pictures to take. Hopefully, I'd find myself finding myself in more and more of this type of situation.

But since I'm not a professional photographer, I usually don't go looking for those shots. It's like I so involved in life that I miss so much. Every once in a while, however, I'll turn my head, or look up, or look down, and there it will be--something amazing that will hopefully transfer to a photo I can show other people.

We hold one of our church meetings in a chapel that's over a century old. It's actually a historical building. If you're familiar with Mormonism, it's where the first Primary was held. Primary is a program for the youth twelve and younger. When we first moved to our little community, it's where we attended church. It's where I watched my mother sing in the choir. It's where my father's funeral service was held. It's a special place for me.

So last Sunday when I looked up and saw a solitary church member sitting in front of that classic space, I thought it would make a good photograph. But I couldn't just interrupt the lesson being taught, move right behind the person and start talking pictures with my phone allowing the entire class to see.

Or could I?

I did get up and went to speak to a friend. We had a meeting later in the week, so I actually had something to talk to him about. I sat down in the pew in front of him, chatted for a moment, then took the picture. It's not 100% how I would have wanted it to look. I had to use the zoom feature on my phone and that diminishes quality. But when I got home and tinkered with it, it turned out okay. It captured what I saw when I looked up from our Sunday School lesson. And now, you can see what I saw, too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

For Me, I'll Stick To The Fun Stuff...

I remember going to a writing symposium a few years ago and I attended a panel on increasing your online presence. It was created to help authors and artist to improve their visibility online, and therefore, help improve sales if and/or when they published something or unveiled a work of art.

One thing stuck out at me. They said if you want more blog followers, you needed to be specific--the more specific the better, at least, that's what statistics showed. I can definitely understand the logic. If you want to get your fix on a certain subject, if you know a blog has what you're looking for, you'll read it. You want to hear about video games, there are blogs out there. Theater = the same. Food, crafts, photography, movies, writing, editing, relationships--it's all there just waiting for those interested in those topics to come and enjoy.

I walked away from that panel a bit conflicted. There were a couple of things I wanted my blog to do. I wanted to write daily, and I wanted to make sure I did something creative on a daily basis. Being specific on this blog didn't really fit into my goals. Sure, I could write a daily blog on writing. That would mean I'd have to come up with writing stuff to blog about everyday. I mean, as you can perhaps tell, I am not spending hours and hours on these things.

I had to conclude that I wasn't going to get thousands and thousands of followers. For me, I'd be fine with a several dozen a day. And that's the way it's been for many years. I noticed this last week a post about about political things hardly registered a blip when it came to page views. However, the post just the day before got several hundred. Granted, I posted the earlier on on Facebook and highlighted several friends in that post. I'm sure that helped, but I've had posts get hundreds of hits without doing that. I don't do a lot of political posts--I don't like going there. Politics (especially lately...) seem to cause people to shut down their brains and stop people from actually talking to each other.

No, I think I'm going to stick with the fun stories. They are, by definition, fun.

Monday, February 13, 2017

"But I Still Love Technology..."

Kip Dynamite said it so well when, on his wedding day to LaFawnduh, he sang:

Yes, I love technology
But not as much as you, you see
But I still love technology
Always and forever

And so it goes. Can technology co-exist with relationships? For some, it not only co-exists, but--along with the person--is the only other thing in the relationship.

But this post isn't about that, not really. It has to do with a feature with our cable provider. You see, I can watch any channel for which we subscribe on my phone and/or iPad. I see people on the buses and trains watch a lot of shows on their phones, but I really don't do that. Commute time's for reading. What I like most of all with this cable feature is that I can casually watch sports while I'm doing other things (like writing blog posts, short stories, and novels...). Plus, since I don't have the sound on, it's a great way to keep track of a game without really watching it. I don't know if other people us this feature the same way, but it's great for us.

And so, currently the Jazz are down by seven in the second. Hopefully, they'll turn it around. Either way, I'll be able to get some editing done--that novel's not going to edit itself.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Political T-Shirts--Something For Everyone...Apparently

So, are these t-shirt designs offensive?

Are they disrespectful?

I suppose, it depends on who you ask.

The first shirt I saw last week. It shows Wonder Woman clocking our current U.S. President. Perhaps you're asking where you can purchase such a shirt. I found the picture: HERE. It will only cost you $19.95 to express your dissatisfaction with our current president. Of course, you could spend thousands more and basically get the same result. Just how much does it cost to make you feel better over the last election? We may never know.

And the second shirt I saw just today. A friend posted it on his Instagram account, with commentary. I have no idea where to buy this shirt, and to be honest, I really don't feel like doing a google search to find out. I'm sure, if you're interested in this one, you can find it, and I imagine it probably costs about as much as the first one, around twenty bucks. Think of the satisfaction you'll have proclaiming your political views across your chest with these powerful messages.

I would neither buy or wear either of these shirts. For one thing, I'd never pay $20 for a t-shirt--I'm too cheap for that. We live in interesting times. We have formed our own little (or big...) support groups where we're all like-minded and all our opinions match, even down to agreeing that one shirt is not only appropriate, but "take my money now" appropriate, and the other shirt is only worn by closed-minded neanderthals. But what we fail to notice is the millions of people who believe differently, those with different opinions, those who would find our shirt offensive and theirs, not at all.

Yes, we live in interesting times.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Attending A "Hats Off" Party...

Tonight the theater where I've been spending so much time lately held a party. They do it every year and every year (in which I've been in a show...) I've been invited. Tonight was the first time I've been able to attend. It's usually held at the same time as a certain writing symposium held in Utah County.

The invitation said semi-formal, but most were dressed to the nines. It's fun to get all gussied up sometimes, I guess.  Everyone seemed to be having a great time. At various locations in the lobby and upstairs there were food and drink stations, each with a theme from a show form 2016. Very creative, but what do you expect from a bunch of artists and performers?

There's mingling, noshing, catching up, then everyone goes into the main theater for a program. I needed to cut the evening short so I missed out on the program, but I've heard it's a lot of fun as well. I toted my camera around with me and took a few pictures. I could, and probably should, have taken more pictures, but it was fun to mingle, nosh, and catch up.

Tonight was a really nice thing for the theater's board of directors to do for us. They don't have to, but I'm glad they do. The performers on stage do all they can to make the event special for the audience, for each and every one of them. Tonight, that's what they did for us. It is appreciated.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Alas, The Snow Is Gone...

This is what our street looked like back on January 8th, just over one month ago. We'd just been hit with a big storm--I think it followed another big storm a few days earlier. Either way, it was beautiful, cold, but beautiful.

I know many people hate the snow--it causes problems that we don't have when there's no snow. Statistically, it's safer to drive when there's no snow or ice on the roads. That makes sense (even though, if people would slow down, it can be just as safe...). Plus without the cold weather, we don't need to burn as many fires to keep warm. We save on natural gas for the same reason.

I don't have a photograph of what the street looks like today. Look at the photograph above and imagine the same street, just with no snow--none. Temperatures this week have been in the 60s. Even the hardest-packed snow can't survive long with that. And if that weren't enough, it's been raining all day. Yup--the snow is gone.

Every year we get a February thaw, so much so, some of the plants get confused. We'll probably get another snowstorm or two before spiring, but usually the snow doesn't last. It melts pretty quickly. I think the days of a constant blanket of white are behind us, at least for eight or nine months. And that makes me sad. I sure do like the snow.