Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Best Part Of Court-Side Jazz Tickets...

I post a picture on social media every single day and have done so for almost eight years. Thursday night I posted a picture of my feet and the floor at the Vivint Smart Home Arena where the Utah Jazz play. From where I sat the only thing separating me from the incredibly talented multi-millionaires was about ten feet.

I was treated like royalty.

This is not the way I'm treated normally when the Jazz pay home games. In fact, when I watch them play it's on my TV at home. The court-side tickets are not mine, but Jeff's, my friend. He and I met almost thirty-three years ago in Provo, Utah as we left our families behind and embarked on an adventure that would change our lives. There were six of us, Jeff, Brian, Mark, Mike, Linda, and me. Six excited and scared people who have been bound by our friendships ever since.

We've kept in touch through the years. We all married, had kids, and now many of those kids are marrying and having kids of their own. Jeff's had season Jazz tickets for years and every once in a while, he invites me and others to spend a night with him, being well-fed, and (if the Jazz win...) well-entertained.

Naturally, I'd love to sit every game in those seats, but I know that's not the point. Jeff is the kind of person who gives up seats he's spent good money on for others to enjoy, and because he's such an amazing person, he's got a lot of friends.

After the game ended (the Jazz smoked the Rockets, by the way...) I thought about the experience I had that night. Yes, the game was fun and the way people treated us was beyond exceptional, but what I enjoyed the most wasn't the pre-game meal with amazing food, or sitting next to Jerry Sloan's party in the lounge, or being so close to the players during the game that I could have had a conversation with them or tell the referees what I really thought of that Rudy Gobert's technical foul call.

No, the best part of the night was spending time with Jeff and two other friends we met in a small Scandinavian country all those years ago. And we don't need court-side ticket for that.

But, boy are they fun!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

A New Way To Teach...A New Way To Learn

In our church the leaders gather twice a year to give instruction and inspiration through the spoken word and music. They also use that time to announce church-wide changes. The meetings are held the first weekends each April and October. This last October they announced some major changes and some that--on the surface--didn't seem that big, but upon closer examination, are going to shake things up.

Changes in the way we teach each other are coming.

I am part of the Sunday School leadership in our congregation so it's up to us to help roll out the new plan. Tomorrow we meet with the teachers to instruct and answer questions they may have. The biggest change in our new system is this: the teachers will no longer be instructing the students as the main focus of their callings. Instead, the students will need to basically learn the lessons before they arrive. Class time will be spent discussing what everyone learned as they went through the lesson on their own at home.

Currently, we meet for three hours on Sundays. The big announcement we received last October is that our total church time will be cut down from three hours to two. Because of the reduced time, Sunday School classes will no longer meet weekly, but every other week. Because of this, the emphasis on learning will shift form the teacher to the student.

I've been a member of this church my entire life. I've had callings where I was an instructor. Shifting the responsibility from the teacher to the student is huge. I know some will get more out of their studying time than others--that's just life. I am looking forward to see how this big change works out.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Modern-Day Miracles Are All Around Us...Even In Appliances

I saw an advertisement months ago for a new car--I can't remember the brand. The set-up was this: you get people to ride around in a new car and record them gushing about how wonderful it is.

Pretty effective, right?

Of course, we're not going to be buying a new car anytime soon, but I thought about how I would react if it were me in that new car. I know I'd do the same exact thing. I'd react that way because the car would be so much more advanced than anything I'm used to. Even a car that's ten years newer than my car (say, something built in 2014...) would have options and features much more impressive.

That's why I've got to mention one incredible feature on our new dishwasher--the bottle-washing jets.

They're awesome!!

My wife makes kombucha at home. It's a simple process, but the biggest pain for us was washing the bottles we re-use each time. We had to hand wash them which seemed to take forever. I looked into buying something that might save us some time. There were things we could attach to our sink faucet, but we don't have the right kind of faucet, so those wouldn't work. When our old dishwasher died, my wife went shopping. When the salesperson mentioned the bottle jets, that's all he needed to say. He made the sale.

We've had everything in place for a few weeks and used the jets several times. It has literally saved us hours. I'm not sure, but had we known about that particular feature, we might have swapped out the working dishwasher we had years ago. I guess things are especially impressive when you're not used to the new stuff.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

So I've Tweeted 5000...Now What?

It's one of those things I hardly notice, but as it approached, I did. It's not a big thing. In fact, in the vast configuration of things, it's no larger than a spec of dust. But still, because it's a "milestone," it's something.

I finally sent out my 5000th tweet.

See? I told you is was nothing.

I've blogged about Twitter before. It's one of the more interesting social media platforms out there. The immediacy is unparalleled. My "wow" moment for how amazing Twitter is (or can be...) came when I was following a neighborhood fire a few years ago. The fire started in a backyard and spread. I followed the tweets as witnesses tracked the fire and told people which houses were in danger and which were not. Even the local fire department used Twitter to spread information to nervous and panicked neighbors.

I thought of all the good Twitter could do.

One of the truths by which I live, is this: "There is opposition in all things." That can definitely be said of Twitter. Anyone using the social network knows the other side of Twitter, the not good side, especially if you're even casually interested in politics, religion, or other social issues. Twitter can be terrible, or better stated, the people on Twitter can be both wonderful and awful.

I don't spend a lot of time on Twitter. I'm only at 5000 tweets (now 5001 when I post the link to this blog post...). I'm a lightweight compared to some. I find it mind-blowing that there are people out there who have hundreds and hundreds of tweets and likes and re-tweets. That's so much time. No, I like sticking in my toe. Swimming with the sharks in that tank is too much for me.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Re-Watched "Notting Hill" Today...A Really Good Rom-Com

I listened to a podcast today from Malcolm Gladwell where he interviewed three country western songwriters. 

It was fascinating.

In the interview, one played a little song he wrote and I recognized it from the film, Notting Hill. The song, When You Say Nothing at All is a classic. I love that song--in fact, there's a lot of songs I like from that film. After listening to the podcast, I found and dusted off our DVD edition of the film and watched it.

I had forgotten just what a fantastic romantic comedy it is.

It's Christmastime which means, there will be a lot of Hallmark movies being watched on TV at our house. Other networks's Christmas movies (Lifetime, Up) are being watched, too. Now, these TV movies do not have the budget Notting Hill had, nor do they have the writers, cinematographers, directors. The TV movies are--for the most part--pretty good.

They can't hold a candle to Notting Hill

The talent is spectacular. The writing is crisp and wonderful. The situation is predictable, but the characters and even soundtrack add so much. It's a funny show as well (hence, the "romantic" portion of the rom-com...). And sure, there's one line in Julia Robert's plea near the movie's end that gets a lot of eye rolls, one bad line don't spoil the whole bunch of movie.

Notting Hill is a movie that's on cable all the time. It's a film I might stop and watch for even a few minutes when I'm channel surfing. It's just a really good rom-com.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

I Wonder...Just How Cold Is It Going To Get?

I got the news last summer--my employer allowed me to work from home. The only space available in our house was the unfinished basement. An unfinished basement is wonderful in the summer--it's cool down there so you don't have to be close to an air conditioner vent.

We anticipated it getting cooler and cooler as autumn approached and the temperatures dropped outside. We bought a space heater and I didn't really need to turn it on until last month. When I worked in an office, the building's temperature controls had a tough time adjusting from spring to summer and from summer to fall. Because of that, I bought a little thermometer to see just how cold it got.

I brought the thermometer home with me.

It's on my desk and I check it often to see just how cold it is.

This morning, it registered around 54º. The heater I use works well so my work space warmed up quickly. I had no complaints. But something happened today. It seemed when I got just outside of my work space, it felt cold, colder than it normally felt.

When I checked the temperature again in the afternoon the thermometer showed 63º--it usually warms up to 70º. It was cold today. We usually don't get this cold until January, so it's nice to know my little heater can do it's job.

It's a year of firsts. I experienced my first winter storm where I didn't have to drive to work. I'm going through my first winter working at home. In a few months spring will arrive and we'll see how that goes. Then, later, I'll know how work will be in the basement once summer rolls around.

Telecommuting--so far, so good (even if it's a little cold...).

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Tale Of Two Dance Performances...

Last weekend I went with my daughter to a dance performance at Brigham Young University. My daughter needs to attend several dance performances and report on them for her dance class. Others have attended different performances with her. Friday night was my turn.

For some reason, I didn't expect BYU's performance to be so well-attended. The place was packed, and for good reason. Their show was amazing. It was a showcase of different cultures and how they express themselves through dance. 

A few weeks ago my wife and I attended a modern dance performance at Weber State University, a show in which my daughter was a participant. The two performances shared a couple of things. They were both dance-centric, and both were put on by universities. Other than that, there were a lot of differences. 

BYU's dance program is HUGE! My daughter and I were discussing the show at intermission. She said there were over two-hundred dancers in then BYU show. She didn't think Weber State didn't have even one-hundred dancers in their entire school. BYU's program was mostly folk dancing and some amazing tap numbers. Weber State's was modern.

Had my daughter not decided to attend college and taken dance classes, I would not have experienced these events. I'm glad she did and I'm glad I got to go see these talented dancers, musicians, and performers. It's been fun.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The One With Where The Cast Of Friends Got Brain Transplants

People love the weekends for many reasons--a big reason is that many of us get to sleep in. Lately when I've had the opportunity to sleep in, I keep waking up early, sometimes earlier than I do for work. This wouldn't be a problem if I would go to sleep at a decent hour, but I don't on weekends because, well...hey--I can sleep in.

This morning, though, for whatever reason, I was able to slumber beyond my normal time of waking up. It was great. The system worked. This particular morning, however, I woke up with a dream fresh on the brain.

And it had to do with brains.

Thanks to the modern miracle that is "binge watching," we've had the show Freinds on a lot lately. Last night's/this morning's dream had to do with all six stars of Friends. For some reason, the friends were all together and they needed to get brain transplants. In the dream, this made sense. The transplants were only supposed to be temporary, so that's good. The actors assembled and the transplants began.

But, they were not fitted with good brains, not even "Abby Normal" brains were used. No, show's characters were given chicken brains.

Why chicken brains?

I have no idea.

So, they get their new brains and began walking around. The next thing you know, none of the characters could do their jobs because they had forgotten how to do their jobs, or do anything else. This also made sense because they had chicken brains.

I woke up at this point and told my wife I dreamt about the characters in Friends getting brain transplants with chicken brains. Maybe it's a good thing I'm not able to sleep in more often...

Saturday, December 1, 2018

I Solved The Mystery Of...The New Dishwasher

We moved into our house in July 2003. It was brand new--everything was new, new floors, new paint, new fixtures, and new appliances.

Things are great when everything's new. They're not so great when those things break down. We've been extremely lucky when it comes to appliances, the only exception is our dishwasher. We're on our third. Because I swapped out our original with the second one, I was pretty confident that installing the new one would be a piece of cake.

About that assumption--I was both right and wrong.

Hooking everything up was easy. Then came the moment where I ease the dishwasher into its space, the place where the two previous dishwashers resided. I gently pushed it into place, and voila! Good as new!

Except it wasn't.

One side of the dishwasher stuck out about 1/2 of an inch longer than the other.

I've been thinking about why for the past couple of weeks. This morning I decided to pull out the dishwasher and do some investigating. I thought maybe either the water intake tube, the water exit tube, or the electrical cord were gettin gin the way.

Over the next hour I systematically eliminated each of the three attachments as the culprit in trying to answer why each side was different. I concluded the two water hoses nor the power cord were the problem. What could it be? Then an idea struck me and I fetched my tape measure.

It turns out whoever built our kitchen counter made one side of the dishwasher space a half an inch deeper than the other side. I guess the other dishwashers fit just fine, but this new one, it might be just a little bigger than the other two.

Now that I've solved the mystery, the slight imperfection is no big deal. And we love the new dishwasher. It has bottle washing jets built right in--that's the dream! I suppose it may be an issue for anyone who buys our house. If they're really picky, they'll have to tear up the counter and replace it, making sure it's 100% correct. One less thing in my life to try and figure out...

Friday, November 30, 2018

Once Upon A Time...In Farmington

A couple of photos were posted on Facebook by Jim Anderson last week and I found them fascinating. If you're familiar with the social network you know they have groups you can not only join, but create as well. I am part of a group entitled, If You Grew up in Farmington, You Remember...

I did grow up in Farmington and I'm still there. Before the west side of the city exploded, Farmington grew steadily. Each former plot of farmland kept getting turned into homes. We've seen most of the open land in the city limits be turned into subdivisions. I know many people hate that, but I can't complain too much. Years ago, our little family moved to Farmington. We dug up an orchard and built a house. It would be very hypocritical of me to think denying others the same opportunity I got is the best thing for our city. Sure, we're growing and issues come from that. We'll just have to adjust and adapt.

The pictures Jim posted on Facebook are shots of my town taken in 1967. We moved sometime between 1969 and 1970. I was only four or five at the time. What I love about these shots is it shows the city almost how it looked when we moved here. And in the bottom right corner of the top picture, you can barely see an orchard. The house my dad built is just out of frame of the shot, but those trees were part of the property my parents bought. My mom sold that lot after my father passed away.

From these pictures I can see what it looked like on the roads I walked and biked. I see the houses I passed and sometimes visited. I see the school I attended that was torn down decades ago. I can see my friends's houses. I see the church we attended, and where we held funerals for both my parents. I see Lagoon Amusement park, the arcade, the roller coaster, the fun house--all places I visited and haven't seen in almost fifty years.

So much has changed. What amazes me is that tomorrow I can climb the mountain and look down from almost that exact vantage point and take pictures of what the valley looks like right now. Then in fifty years these pictures can be posted and shown to others and they will be amazed that the valley at one time looked like that. They'll have the same reaction I have when I look at these pictures. 

I love that.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

"All Made Of Hinges"...A New Mormon Steampunk Anthology


A new anthology is now available. It's guaranteed to be like nothing you've read before. It's called All Made of Hinges, and it's an anthology of Latter-Day Saint steampunk stories.

Like I said, it's like nothing you've read before.

There's an interesting story about this collection. The call went out for submissions. Apparently a lot of us wanted to share their Mormon steampunk stories that not only did they gather enough for one volume, they actually filled three. The first edition was released this week. In the coming months the other two books will be available. I submitted a story that was accepted and I believe it will be in the third book.

Because it's so new, I have not read any of the stories, but I do know most of the authors personally and have read other things they have written. I'm especially excited to read Christopher McAfee's The Machinations of Angles. Chris and I met in the mid-1980s when we both lived in Denmark. Over the years we've run into each other occasionally, mostly at Salt Lake's Comic Con and FanX conventions. I introduced Chris to many of my author friends and now he's in an anthology. I am excited for him.

If you are interested in the book, you can order the e-book right now! Just click: HERE to access the Amazon page. When the other editions are available I'll blog about them, too--especially the one that has my little story. For now, though, please order All Made Of Hinges. Those unique stories are just waiting for you to read them!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Parcast's "Assassinations" Podcast...A New View Of History

Back in the day I listened to a lot of podcasts. I still do, but not as many as before. Back then I used to try new ones all the time as well. I would get really excited for a new one, but as time went on, I ended up unsubscribing to many of them. It's more difficult than it sounds to keep any creative project interesting for years and years.

I heard about a new podcast this week called Assassinations. It's from Parcast, a network that specializes in scripted, story-driven programing that informs and entertains. Assassinations is only three episodes old and earlier this week, I listened to them all. They focused on one of the most famous assassinations in modern history, the killing of President John F. Kennedy.

JFK was shot almost two years to the day before I was born, and only a week before my brother was born. I don't have a personal connection to the event, but I know my parents were interested in it. When we cleaned out my parent's house after my mother passed away we found copies of the Salt Lake Tribune from November 22, 1963 to November 29, 1963. They did not keep of copy of November 30, 1963--the day my brother was born. Too bad. It would be fun to have a copy of the local paper printed the day you were born.

I liked the podcast. It goes into detail the backstories of the main characters, JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Jack Ruby. The narration is engaging, not dull. It highlights their lives before the event, and it goes into detail about what happened in Dallas decades ago. If you like history, check out Parcast's Assassinations. You can access the episodes by clicking: HERE.

I don't know if I'll be listening to this podcast in a few years. Another reason people stop listening to the episodes is because many podcasts don't make it. I'd like to think that if this one does make it and continues for years to come, I'll be listening to it. As long as the stories follow the network's mantra of providing scripted, story-driven programming that informs and entertains, I'll be a listener.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A Game For The Ages...Unbelievable!

There were over forty-six thousand people at Rice Eccles Stadium last Saturday night.

I don't think any of us could have guess what would happen over the next four hours, and if they said they did, they'd be lying.

What a ride!

Most of us wore red. Those wearing blue were interspersed throughout the crowd. My friend Bob took me to the game as an early birthday present. I had planned on watching from the comfort of my home. For some reason, the game was scheduled to begin at 8pm late November. It snowed earlier in the day, but that night, the clouds vanished and the temperature dropped. We bundled up in layers and headed off.

Still--I hadn't been to a game in years. Getting to watch one of the true rivalries in all of college football live is an opportunity one should not pass up if possible.

The teams stormed the field, the coin was tossed, the ball was placed, the kickoff started the game. And then it all hit the fan.

I blogged before the game Saturday. I wrote that I did not know what was going to happen. I even stated that I wanted to be happy if BYU won--I'd be happy for their fans, their players, and their coaches.

For three quarters of football, those words kept playing in my mind, because it looked like that's exactly what was going to happen. BYU was mopping the floor with Utah. With only a few seconds left in the third quarter, BYU led 27-7. They were finally going to win--the streak was coming to an end.

Then, the wheels came off.

And a team that had not only been in control all game, but dominating blew a twenty point lead and Utah won the game, 35-27. It was unbelievable. And when the Cougars failed to reach the Utah 48-yard line in four downs with less than a minute remaining, it was all over and the streak instantly became a year longer.

At halftime Bob and I joked about leaving. It was cold, the Utes were getting hammered, but we remained. And we were a witness to history.

I did feel bad for my friends in blue. It was the worst way to lose a game--having a win so close and then having it ripped away. I was already resigned to feeling happy for BYU for their win. In the end, though, the emotional roller coaster that was the game stopped and we all went home, most were over the moon happy--the others felt the exact opposite.

Thanks Bob for the birthday present. Thanks to the Utes for showing real gumption and never giving up. Thanks to BYU for playing their hearts out and helping to make the game one spectacular event. And next year it'll happen all over again.

Monday, November 26, 2018

"Shell Game" Is Coming...You Like Playing Games, Don't Ya?

Back in the 1990s I was an extra a couple of times for a few projects being filmed in Salt Lake. I couldn't devote a lot of time to it because I had a full-time job to consider and a new family to support. 

In the 2000s, I wrote a screenplay that was turned into a short film. I wrote a few other stories but never pursued getting them made.

This decade I was in a local commercial and last Friday, a friend asked for help on a little project they were filming. Since I had the day off, I thought I'd ask if he needed me. Turns out, he did. Turns out, we filmed a very short scene called, Shell Game.

I wasn't sure what the story was about, other than it was a mobster story. I dressed in a nice suit. I had no idea what character I'd be playing. I was cast as a bad mobster (as apposed to a good mobster...). When I got the message they'd like to use me, I didn't know what my lines would be or how many I'd have. That's because the script wasn't written until a few hours before we began filming.

It turns out, we had a blast doing it.

I knew Nathan, the director/writer/other bad mobster. I did not know Chelsea, Hawk, or Geoffrey. Having not worked on a lot of films, I found myself over-emoting. On the stage, your motions/your facial expressions need to be big so even the back row can see. It took a few takes for me to incorporate the director's/cameraman's direction of, "be subtle." I hope I did a good job.

We ended the evening gathered at a local eatery, Granny Annie's--everyone, that is, except Chelsea who had to leave early. The shoot was quick, efficient, and we were paid in food. What a great way to spend a Friday afternoon.

Once again, I don't know how much time I can dedicate to this type of project. I don't have a lot of experience in the industry--everyone involved in Shell Game has been involved in many more projects. They each have more IMDb credits to their name than me (which is not difficult as I have only one IMDb credit...), and Chelsea blows us all out of the water. I would like to do more of this--of course, I don't know if I'm any good so it remains to be seen if I would be hired for any projects. Still, it's immensely satisfying work, and who knows--some day I might be doing more and more of this type of thing. Time will tell.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Missing Those Amazing Danish Christmas Decorations...

I didn't realize it at the time, but what I saw when I lived in Denmark back in the mid-1980s would be something I'd not see again, at least haven't seen since. Not realizing things at the time is not new with me--as I get older, I'm noticing things I missed when I was younger and wish I had appreciated them back in the day.

What was it that I haven't seen in over thirty years? The way the Danes decorate for Christmas.

I'm sure Denmark is not unique in how they decorate. I imagine other European cities do the same, but what I loved and miss is the way they string lighted decorations over the narrow streets between the buildings. I did a quick google search and found a couple of examples, one from, one from, and one from I believe these pictures are from Copenhagen, but I remember seeing this type of decor in Århus as well. I lived in Copenhagen the first Christmas I lived in Denmark and Århus the second Christmas.

I live in the western part of the United States. Whereas the cities in Europe have limited space, cities out west have room to spare, or at least, they did when they were first organized. We don't have narrow streets like they do in Europe. I guess you could string huge decorations between buildings here, but the effect wouldn't be the same. There's something charming, whimsical, endearing about how Christmas looks in Denmark and I love it and I miss it.

One day I might make it back to the land of the vikings during Jul. But even if I don't, thinking back about how that cold dark country looked at Christmas is a warm and wonderful memory.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Heading To The Game Tonight...Have No Idea What Will Happen

If things go as planned, I will be attending the state's biggest football game tonight. I'm writing this before I go because, due to the game's late starting time, it's going to be well past midnight when I get home and I make sure to always post my daily blog before midnight (hence, a daily blog...).

So, right now, I have no idea what's going to happen or who's going to win.

The oddsmakers, Vegas, your average fan--they all agree Utah has the edge over BYU this year. My head agrees with this assessment, but my guts, they're annoyingly interrupting my train of thought. There's something about tonight's game that is not necessarily making me nervous, but causing me to think this one's no a sure thing.

This year, as with every year, there are subplots and side stories to add color to an already colorful game. There seems to always be players who grew up rooting for one team then found themselves wearing the opposing team's uniforms when it came time to play. This year, those players happen to be the highest profile players in the game. It all adds to the tension, the drama.

I'm still a Utah Man at heart. I suppose I always will be. Having gone there, graduating from there, it's a part of me. For years I was not a BYU fan. Many times I even rooted for whatever team was playing the Y to come out ahead. 

Time have changed.

I think/hope it's because I'm older or more mature--whatever the reason, I have had a change of heart, especially after the school in Provo showed such support for the University of Utah student athlete Lauren McCluskey, who was killed earlier this year. BYU and other schools showed their support by wearing red and U of U gear. They didn't have to--no one made them do it, and I know many of those athletes dislike the U with a very real hatred. Yet, they put that aside because the life of a student should be more important than a rivalry.

I hope I've come to the point where if BYU wins tonight's game, sure I'll be disappointed, but I hope I can be happy for their program and their fans. They're a good school. They have players/coaches who are good people, and after seven straight losses, a win would be that much sweeter.

But I still hope Utah wins. Here's to a good game where everyone plays hard, the refs are as fair as they can be, and no one gets hurt. For a Utah Man am I--Go Utes!!

Friday, November 23, 2018

A Little Known...Amazing Story

Earlier this month the world celebrated the the one-hundred year anniversary of World War One ending. Even though I wasn't born until the 1960s, I feel a connection to earlier generations. My father was born six years after that war ended. Many of my adult role models lived through the Great Depression and several wars.

I spent the weekend before Veterans Day this year on the internet looking at sites, checking out stories. One story popped up on Twitter that I had never heard of before. It involved the WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker.

But something embedded inside the story caught my attention and made me think about more than just the war, more than just the story of a pilot witnessing the end of a horrible time in humanity's history.

What struck me most about the story is the way the soldiers acted once the war had officially ended. One moment they were killing each other, and because of a decision made by others, they emerged from their trenches they began hugging and dancing and celebrating. I find it amazing that humans have the capacity to both love each other and kill each other. It's all a matter of choice.

The story reminded me of not just the evil in us, but also the good and that we can be good. Hopefully, given the choice, we'll choose good.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Say "Hi" To Vector...It's Our Future

The other day I was killing time scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across a video. It was basically an advertisement for a little robot. I know the ad's purpose was to make me want to buy one of these little guys, but it left me with a different reaction.

It kind of creeped me out.

The product is called Vector and he's a small cute robot that is programmed to interact with its human owners in a personal way. The ad opened with its practicality. It can be a timer, an information resource (what time is it, what temperature is it outside, etc...). Then the video explains how this little gadget isn't just a motorized version of SIRI, it's a lot more.

This thing interacts, it craves attention, and it learns as it goes. As I watched the video it made me think that this little guy is supposed to be amazing and helpful and fun. But I think it's also supposed to be a legitimate companion for people, a way to interact with something--anything.

My mind projected. Today it's a little robot that rolls around on a table or desk. Tomorrow, the robots will mostly look, act, move, interact just like us. It's only a matter of time. 

Back when smartphones were new, not everyone had them. As time progressed society evolved to the point where nearly everyone has a smartphone. I see the day coming fairly quickly where everyone will have these personal robots that not just vacuum the floor but will talk to you, comfort you when you're sad, and tell you jokes to lighten the mood.

It's just a matter of time.

If you want to know more about this little gizmo, you can watch a different video: HERE. Maybe you'll have a different reaction to it than I did. I hope so.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Being Thankful In 2018...

This morning, before I went to work, I spotted one of our cats in the sink waiting for us to turn on the water so he could get a drink.

What does this have to do with Thanksgiving?

Good question.

We have four pets living under our roof, four animals that are under our care. Without us, the cats might be able to survive on their own--cats are good at things like that. The dogs, however, well...they seem to need people more than the cats.

I have no idea what the pets think about us. If they even understand the concept of thankfulness, it's on a very basic level. But we're thankful for them. They can be pains sometimes, but their good points far exceed their bad. 

That's the way things go. We appreciate things, but only so far. We probably won't appreciate the pets until they're no longer with us. The trick is to be grateful for what you have while you have it.

Tomorrow we gather and eat and talk and nap and maybe watch some football on TV. The cats and dogs will do all that, too. Except they won't understand football and they'll nap more than we will. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving, everyone, including your furry ones.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

An Unexpected...And Beautifully Touching Gift

It's the season for giving, and receiving, gifts. For us, it started before Thanksgiving, but a better gift I can hardly imagine.

My wife lost her father this past summer. He had been in poor health for years and the end came relatively quick. When a person has declined for so long and they pass away, we can take some comfort in knowing they're no longer in pain, that their ailing body no longer incarcerates their soul.

There are many things that remind me of my father-in-law. My oldest drives his Ford Taurus to school, work, and on dates. I moved his desk into the basement and work there from home, and now that it's turning cold, I wear his winter coats. Last week I found myself thinking of him, his wonderfully dry humor, his kind nature, and I found myself missing him.

Then, the package arrived.

Most packages we get are addressed to my son--he's the one who orders most things in our house. But this package was addressed to my wife and me. We opened it up and discovered it came from my wife's oldest sister and her husband. They sent a box from the Western Nut Company. It's a local business that has been delicious nut concoctions for decades. The second we opened the box, I thought of Blaine. He loved Western Nut Company and their goods. He always ordered a box for the holidays--it was tradition.

I showed my wife the box, and when we read the accompanying card, we both got misty. It will be the family's first Christmas without their patriarch. The incredibly thoughtful gift made us realize what a fine man he was and what we're going to be missing. It also made us realize that, in some small way, he'll be with us after all.

Monday, November 19, 2018

NOT Doing A Show This Christmas...

On social media I was reminded this past week that I've been doing a lot of Christmas shows. One of my pictures I took six years ago popped up and I was asked if I wanted to share the memory.

So, in the past six years, I've done five Christmas shows, two versions of Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol (that took up three shows...), an original production of Babes in Toyland, and a stage play of It's a Wonderful Life. It's been so normal for me to be in a show at Christmas, I've forgotten what it's like not to be in a show.

For example, I have so much more time, not only for Christmas, but for Thanksgiving. This week I'll be home when I'm not at work. I can help get the house/meal ready and I can help with all the other things that seem to pop up this time of year, things I couldn't do in years past.

Last weekend my wife, mother-in-law, and I went to my daughter's performance at Weber State University. The difference between her show and the shows we've been doing each Christmas is her college show only had three performances. The shows I've been doing at Christmas took two months of rehearsals and one month actually doing the show. We watched the show and afterwards, I helped tear down the set. That reminded me of being in a show, too.

There are times when I miss being in shows, but having all this extra time is pretty fantastic. I'm looking forward to not being at the theater until midnight or later all this week. I look forward to having every night and weekends free. The theater's Christmas show opens Friday. I wish them well.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Jim Hansen...My Friend's Father Passed Away

Jim Hansen, southwestern Utah's congressman for 20 years, dies at 86*

There were lots of deaths this month, lots of deaths. Some rocked the world, others not so much. But each death is personal, intimate, singular. This month Stan Lee and William Goldman passed away, two entertainment giants.

Last Wednesday Jim Hansen, or James Hansen, died. He was my US Congress representative for twenty years. He was our congregational leader before that. And, perhaps most importantly, he was a childhood friend's father.

I doubt the man knew me personally. It's possible he might have known my father. Our town was so much smaller then. In our religion a group of congregations (or wards...) is called a Stake. Stakes have leaders called Stake Presidents. When we first moved to Farmington, our town was not big enough to have a Stake. When we finally got one, Jim Hansen was chosen as the first Stake President. 

Then he was elected to congress.

My wife and I had a discussion last week about politics and how being a member of congress would be tough. You're always making promises that you either can't keep or never intended on keeping in the first place. And Mr. Hansen ran and won for ten elections.

As we get older more and more of my friend's parents are leaving us. Most won't be famous screenwriters or comic book creators, but to those that know them most, that doesn't matter. The pain is personal, intimate, singular.

Jim Hansen was one of the leaders of the community in more ways than one. He accomplished a lot in his eighty-six years. Many will miss him, but none more than his closest family. God speed, leader, congressman, father.

* Photo credit from The Spectrum:

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Utah's Autumn Skies...

Since I work from home, I've been able to see the sunsets before they disappear instead of appreciating them from a bus or train and being unable to photograph them. 

And I do love a good Utah autumn sunset.

Over the past few weeks I've taken a lot of pictures of the western skies. Of course, some are better than others, but each time I aimed my phone or Nikon westward, I saw something beautiful in front of me. I did my best to capture what I saw. Hopefully, these pictures gives you an idea of just what the western skies this November.