Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Obligatory Halloween Blog Post...

My wife and I stood outside out house tonight as we waited for the ever-diminishing number of trick-or-treaters to stop by.

"I love Halloween," I told her. Looking at the carved pumpkins on the front stairs, feeling the chill in the air. It reminded me of when I went door-to-door for candy as a child and when my wife and I took around our kids to the neighbor's homes on the last night of October.

It's been years since we went trick-or-treating with the kids, but each year we've carved pumpkins and decorated the house--not overly, but enough. And for the past several years I've taken the day off work. This year was no different. It's something I look forward to each year, staying home all day to help the family get ready for the holiday.

The kids are hopefully getting warn inside their homes thinking of all the treats they'll consume in the next couple of days. Tomorrow we'll toss the pumpkins (unless they get chucked before that...) and put away the decorations. They'll sit for a year until it's time to pull them out again.

Yes--I do love Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"Everyone...I Think It's Time To End The Séance"

I turned to the audience and said, "Everyone, I think it's time to end the Séance." And I escorted the guests from the room for the last time.

At least, for the last time this season. Tonight, another show ended, a show I've been fortunate enough to do for the second year in a row. Me doing the same show year after year hasn't happened since college, and interestingly enough, it was working for the same company.

Tonight, we said goodbye.

Tonight, we hung up the costumes.

Tonight, we hugged and wished everyone the best until we see each other again.

Tonight, an exhausted team gathered for a final picture.

We replaced our props, closed the door, turned off the lights, and closed the door. All that remains are our memories, hearing the laughs, the gasps, and all the screams that came from that small room. After every show I watched as each patron leave to continue their Frightmares experience. Some were shaking, some laughing, some crying, but almost all were smiling, thankful for a good scare and that the experience was over.

Our team left tired, sore, emotionally drained, but happy. That's the way to end a show. Thank you, Frightmares, for allowing me to be part of an amazing and talented group of people, Stephen, Sheradin, Curtis, Taylor, Joey, and everyone else involved in the show. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Sorry Mr. "He's Got Some Airedale In Him" Guy...You Were Wrong

My son picked up his new puppy at the end of June of this year. Since then, we've wondered just what kind of dog he was. The paperwork said Standard Poodle, but he was also a rescued dog and he could be something else mixed in. Since any dog with "doodle" in its name is all the rage right now, people came up to us when we were taking the puppy on a walk telling us our dog looked exactly like their Labradoodle, or other type of doodle.

A couple of people even said they thought our dog had a little Airedale Terrier in him. That actually made sense. We saw some whiskers on his face, and his snout seemed fatter, not as narrow. The past couple of months, the hair on the puppy grew and filled out. We thought he was just getting bigger, bigger legs, bigger face, bigger everything.

Turns out, we were wrong.

This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago. His hair had grown since I snapped the photo. My son and wife took the dog to the groomers this morning and if they weren't there to see the transformation, I'd swear they brought home a different animal. He answers to his name, but he doesn't look like the same dog.

He's a poodle--I don't think there's any way of getting around it.

We didn't care if he was a pure breed poodle. We've all grown to love him and he us. Next time we go walking and someone says, "hey, that looks like a--fill in the blank with a doodle--dog." We'll just say, nope--he's a poodle. And we love him.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I Don't Know Why...But I'm Getting Fewer And Fewer Hits

Back when I first started this blog--back when the whole blogging fad was fading pretty fast--I used to keep tabs on my blog stats. It was fun and kind of amazing that I could write something, post it online, and almost the entire world could access it. 

Turns out only a very small sliver of the world checked it out.

And I've always been okay with that. I learned pretty quickly that my blog would not rock the internet and like a siren's song, beckoning throngs of visitors to see what amazing things I published. I don't think I ever thought they would, but...hey, it's the internet and things go viral all the time.

I said from the beginning that this blog is more for me, to keep me writing, to keep a daily digital journal. That's what I've done for almost eight years. I know that some of my posts have touched people and helped people, but most of my posts are just random thoughts that allow me to keep up a daily habit of writing.

So, I'm okay with having a few people check out the blog. I've always checked to see how many have accessed each entry. Something happened the end of October, though. And I'm not exactly sure what. I used to get around a hundred views a day, sometimes more, and sometimes less, but it was usually around a hundred. Now, I'm getting half that much and many times less. 

Again, I'm okay with the views. Writing daily means you can't always hit home runs and I many times don't have the time to write daily home runs. Still, I'd like to know why the numbers dropped. I'm wondering if the hundred was the norm, or if I only got around forty or so hits a day.

I'll keep writing. Who knows--things may pick up, or they might stay the same. If my goal is to post something everyday, then the number of people who read this doesn't really matter.

However, if you're reading this, thank you! I hope it's been worth your time.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Ah...The Joys Of Live Theater

I'd have to say my career in performing began in high school. I didn't to a lot of shows--I was too shy--but I definitely found an interest. In college I worked as a stuntman and in 2000, my son and I did our first community theater production...Scrooge.

Since then, I've probably done at least one show every year, some years no shows, some years many. Needless to say, if you're on a stage performing in front of a live audience, it's only a matter of time before something goes wrong.

I was reviewing a show for a blog when the stage didn't lift and they took a ten-plus minute break to get it fixed. I was in a show when lightning hit the building and fried some audio equipment. I was in another a show when the motorized cart that Belle's father drove in Beauty and the Beast died on stage. I, a member of the ensemble, ended up running on stage to jimmy the key--it was quirky. It worked. And everyone knows what it's like to completely forget a line or have an actor with which you are interacting on stage, forget a line.

Ah, the joys of live theater.

I've been both on stage and in the audience when mistakes happen. It's part of the experience. Thankfully, when they do it's nice when those who paid to see you on stage are considerate enough to understand that errors and technical difficulties happen and to not complain, even though they've spent good money to see the show. It's part of being a good citizen, a good patron, a good person.

As long as I continue to do shows, I suppose the glitches and gaffs and mistakes and miscues will continue as well. Let's hope they're at a minimum and when they do happen, people will understand.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Happy Birthday Mom...Well, Tomorrow

It's Friday as I write this, but most will read my blog post tomorrow, which is October 27th, my mother's birthday. I think each year--or many years since I began this blog in 2011--I've written about my mom's birthday and the pre-Halloween tradition I've kept up for decades.

Each year, on her birthday, I carve a pumpkin.

I used to give it to her and it would be one of the pumpkins we put on the stairs at our house. Now, I place it on my parent's grave. I carved the pumpkin today, tomorrow I'll take it over and place it on the grave. I would have placed it there before I went to work this afternoon, but last year, someone smashed it when I checked a few days after the 27th.

A trick I've been using the past couple of years is to use one of those rechargeable yard lights to light the pumpkin at night. I just cut a hole the size of the light and voilá, I have illumination without resorting to a candle or a battery-powered light.

I sure miss my mom. She'd be turning eighty-seven. She'd love watching her grandkids get bigger, seeing and being with the great-grandkids, and making our lives become a part of her own. But, as with all things, since we have a beginning, we must then have an ending and her time came over eleven years ago. 

Tomorrow I'll drive over the the cemetery, place the pumpkin on the headstone, and hope no one smashes it, at least until tomorrow's over. This year, I chose a "witch hitting a tree" pattern. I'm sure she would have loved it. Happy birthday, well, tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Going The Wrong Way...At Costco

My wife and I did a little shopping at our local Costco Superstore after work this afternoon. The store's pretty wide open allowing patrons to go hither and yon to find the things they want. I'm not an expert on shopping center design. I'm sure there's a master plan to herd the shoppers to maximize their spending. I see it in our local grocery store more, but, well...there you go.

Our trip took us to a couple of places we don't go very often--the fresh vegetables, and the dairy sections. They're both separated from the shopping floor because they are cooler than their surroundings. My wife and I went in, we looked around, picked up what we needed, then left.

After we left the veggies section, I said to my wife, "You went the wrong way in there." Once again, I'm no expert on shopping center design, but I did notice everyone else turned right when they entered, then walked around making three left turns before they exited. 

My wife and I chatted about that. You know, small talk you say to avoid making eye contact with the free sample people. "I'm going to go into the dairy section," she said.

And so she did. When she came out, she said, "Wow--I guess I went the wrong way in there, too."

I once heard a frequent traveler tell us non-frequent travelers how to speed things up when you're out and about. I've forgotten many of the things, but I do remember one thing they said. "Whenever you're lining up for anything, tickets, boarding passes, car rentals, go to the line on the left. Americans are programmed to automatically go to the right because of how we drive."

I though that interesting.

I don't know if it holds true for a proper way to circumnavigate a shopping cart through the cold sections on the Costco sales floor. I do know, if everyone turned right then left three times and we turned left then right three times, it might cause a veggie traffic jam.

And jam's all the way over at the other side of the store.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

I Wore Red Today...

Personally, I love the color red--I have most of my life. Growing up, red was fine. I probably thought my favorite color was blue. Then I moved to Denmark. I fell in love with the color red and I've never stopped. When I moved home, I attended the University of Utah which has the same colors as Denmark--technically, the U's colors are crimson and white, but red's close enough.

Everyone in the state--especially fans of local college teams--understand Red stands for The U. It just does.

Red is the color of heat, of passion, of blood, of rage, or fire. Red is action. Red is life. Today thousands of students across the state of Utah wore red, many, I'm sure loathe the color red and would rather wear blue or purple. But they wore red, not because the necessarily like red. They wore red as a tribute to Lauren McCluskey, a University of Utah student who was killed Monday senseless a tragedy as is possible. 

Social media can be a sewer, but since there's opposition in all things (including social media...), it can be a place to celebrate the good in others. Today students, teachers, and administrators either dug out a red shirt, borrowed one from someone else, or bought one and wore it to support a school in mourning. Today, instead of black to show pain, they wore red.

It's too bad something so horrible can make us appreciate our similarities rather than what we believe are our differences. In a few weeks the state's biggest rivals will meet on the football field to see which team is better on that given day. It's been a one-sided affair as of late, but current trends and past victories won't matter. On the day of the game, I hope we can remember a day we were more together than apart, more unified than separate, basically, the better part of us.

I wore red today. I'd wear red everyday, if I had enough red. Today I wore red not for me, but because the light inside a beautiful woman (both inside and out according to those who knew her...) was extinguished far too early, at the hand of another, whose life ended as well. Because there's opposition in all things, a world with such incredible beauty has such horrifying evil. May we never allow the darkness to stop us from seeing the light.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

How NOT To Celebrate Your Half-Birthday...

Okay, it's been a few weeks since this happened and as I was looking through my blog post ideas folder, I ran across this little beauty. I thought, I ought to put write about it.

It was funny.

I should say at the beginning that I'm not the most social media savvy person out there. I do okay, but the kids these days know so much more about all things "social media" than I do. I've been on Twitter for years, but truth be told, I'm probably doing it wrong.

The point I'm trying to make it the Facebook meme my friend posted a few weeks back was something I might do. At first I thought my friend knew the emoji he thought was chocolate wasn't, in fact, a chocolate emoji. So, when I responded, I wasn't sure if he was trying to be funny. I posted my response and he posted his.

He's maybe having the last laugh--he might have known what the poop emoji meant all along. Either way, I thought it was funny, and so did a few others. Like I said before, this is something I might have done myself. Who knows--I might be making these type of mistakes all over the place. And if I do, I hope they bring a smile to someones face, whether I meant them to or not.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Well Played Best Buy...Well Played

We don't go to too many grand openings. I mean, what's the point, really? We aren't big shoppers and the usual trinkets businesses dangle in front of the public whenever a new store opens don't entice us. But a new store opened up at our local shopping center and last Saturday, I thought we ought to check it out.

I believe the Best Buy opened the day before. I saw a sign announcing its grand opening earlier in the month. We had a few minutes to kill Saturday morning and I suggested we go. We got in the van, drove the few miles separating us from the store and went inside. Before we did, we noticed not one, but two Cupbop Korean BBQ in a Cup food trucks parked outside.

"Make sure you pick up lunch on your way out," a Best Buy employee in a blue shirt said to us as we crossed the street to enter the store. We waved and nodded. Then he added, "It's free--lunch on Best Buy."

Um...that's the kind of grand opening trinket we love. We went inside and the store was beautiful. There's a temporary store a few doors down that sells Halloween costumes, displays, make-up, and anything associated with scaring people. Best Buy is a much scarier store than that one. It's got electronics, games, cameras, computers--basically, all the adult toys I love.

We didn't buy anything--as per our usual shopping pattern at a new store. But we did take advantage of the free lunch special from Cupbop. I've never had Korean BBQ before. I'll have it again, if given the chance, and I'll pay for it, too.

I didn't see any blockbuster deals inside the store. If they were there, we missed them. But we did have lunch on Best Buy. For us, it was a good way to introduce us to our new neighbors. Well played, Best Buy...well played.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Things You Do...When You Lose Your Voice

Last week, at my part-time gig, I had to work outside. It got cold last week, and because of that, a series of events occurred that resulted in my losing my voice. Well, I didn't lose it completely, but I had no way to project my voice.

For me, it's something that happens all the time.

I remember back in college, I would lose my voice at least a couple of times every year, usually around Christmas. This was a problem because I sang in a choir and Christmas was a very busy time for us, a time when I needed to sing.

Losing my voice is a problem for me. I need my voice to do my part-time gig. I need to speak to the public who are about to enter our show. I need to give the audience instructions and usher them out when the show is finished. I thought of ways I could use technology to help.

Like I said earlier, I can speak, but quietly. I have nothing to push the sound. So, I thought I could get a Bluetooth speaker and project my voice that way. I gaff taped a shower Bluetooth speaker I had to the back of a mask I use for the show. I downloaded an app that allows me to use my phone as the microphone.

It all looked good on paper. Turns out in reality the iPhone mic created a ton of feedback. It was cool, though because the feedback made it sound like eerie spooky sounds were coming from my mask. I remembered that I had ordered a microphone years ago to help with my podcast. I plugged in the mic and pulled up the app. That helped, but it wasn't great. Finally my son loaned me his Bluetooth speaker, a superior product. 

That did it. I had something I could use to speak to the crowds. Turns out, I didn't need to do it. Yes, it hurt, but I pushed through the shows by having the audio turned down and by being quiet. I wasn't as effective a speaker as I had been the previous weeks, but we got through it. 

The good news is, this condition usually only lasts a few days. I won't be returning to the part-time gig for five days. By then, I won't need Bluetooth speakers, additional microphones, or gaff tape. I will have the mask, though. Basically, because it's cool.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

I Guess I Didn't Jinx BYU's Football Team After All...

Back on September 28 of this year, I posted a blog about BYU's football team. You can check out the post by clicking: HERE. I wrote the post because at that point in the season the team (and, by extension, their fans...) were flying high. They had beaten a Pac-12 team, almost beat another, and took down the then Number 6 team in the nation, Wisconsin at their house. 

The point of the post was to highlight a renewed feeling about the team. After the year before, they and their fans needed some good news and they got it.

Of course, the day after I wrote that post, BYU traveled to the Great Pacific Northwest to face one of the best teams in the nation, Number 11 University of Washington Huskies. No one gave BYU a chance when they faced a higher-ranked opponent in Wisconsin. Many believe the boys in blue could pull off another miracle.

Well, things didn't quite work out that way. The Huskies mauled the Cougars 35 - 7.

The next week BYU played their brothers to the north, Utah State University. This game was in Provo, but the score didn't favor the hometown team. BYU lost 45 - 20.

I thought maybe I had jinxed the team.

Okay, I really didn't believe that. I'm not that superstitious. I think we believe in superstitions because it gives us a sense that we have some control over our lives. Wearing the same clothes on game day can't guarantee a win, nor do the other countless things we do in hopes of a good outcome. So, my rational mind knows just because I wrote that post had absolutely nothing to do with the team losing two straight games.

The next week BYU played the University of Hawaii. They started their freshman quarterback phenom and beat the Rainbows 49 - 23. If they had lost, my unfounded belief that my post had something to do with their latest loss might have been strengthened. 

The future looks bright for the team. They did not play this week. They've got five games left and two of those games are against teams that have had their number as of late. So, playing the odds, they could finish 7 - 5, much better than last year. And many believe they could win out and finish with a record of 9 - 3.

Of course, none of that has anything to do with my blog post,..

Or does it?

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Reason Why I Keep A Daily Record...

Yesterday Facebook reminded me that I posted a picture of my sister five years ago. I remember that my wife and I went out for a date night meal at Iggy's, a local sports restaurant. I think we had ordered take out and we ran into my sister sitting alone in a booth.

It's always great to see my sister now and then. We asked her what she was up to.

"I'm waiting for a blind date," she said.

I don't remember exactly what we said after that, but I'm pretty sure "good luck" was one of the things. Fast forward five years and now my sister shares her last name with the man who was to be her blind date. My sister and Frank were married in August. I used that photo as my Pic Of The Day for October 18, 2013.

There's a couple of things I do everyday--well, more than a couple, but as far as chronicling each day I write in a journal--every day, write a blog post--every day, and post a picture online--every day. Most days my journal entries are similar--worked, stuff I did after work--went to bed. The blog posts are more varied, but sometimes, not much. The Pic Of The Day can be similar, too--pictures of our pets, our kids, our flowers, and the food I eat. 

But every once in a while, I'll write something in my journal, or blog something, or post a picture that ends up being more than what it appears at first. No one, not me, my wife, my sister, or her date knew that five years later, they'd be married. 

Tonight I'm going to write in my journal, finish this blog post, and put up another picture. I have no idea if anyone will read my journal post, look up this blog post, or find any significance in the picture five years from now. Then again, you never know.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Looks Like Expiration Dates DO Matter...

I think I'm cursed. Okay, maybe not "cursed." Let me explain. Over the past eight or nine months every time I've found a really good breakfast cereal, that brand of cereal seems to disappear. It happened to my strawberry--chocolate--granola cereal and it happened to a marshmallow cereal I used to get all the time.

I've moved on, as one tends to do when the store discontinues a brand you liked. I've made other breakfast decisions, gotten to like other things.

But this morning, I walked into a basement storage room in our house and I saw it--boxes of a cereal I once enjoyed. I told my wife it was down there.

"Did you check the expiration date?" she asked.

I had not.

But I've had expired food before and it wasn't that bad. I'm not the pickiest eater so I thought it wouldn't be that bad.

Turns out, it kind of was.

I guess, if we were battling a zombie apocalypse, I could have finished the bowl of three-plus year old cereal and it probably wouldn't have killed me. But, there's not a zombie apocalypse (at least, not one that I know of...) so I dumped the bowl and ate cereal from a box with an expiration date in the future, not years old. 

There's another box down there in the basement. I didn't throw it out, but I will. Too bad I didn't know about back in 2015.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

When You Combine Kurt Russell, Disneyland, And The Osmond Brothers...You Get An Awesome YouTube Video!

I listened to a podcast today, Adventure is Out There! from my friends, Mo and Zack. You can access their podcast: HERE. They talk about Disney, travel, and Disney travel. I've only been to Disneyland three times in my entire life, but I find the podcast interesting.

In today's podcast they talked about Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. It's one of my favorite rides. It was in that podcast they discussed a YouTube video that featured the Haunted Mansion. It also featured Kurt Russell and the Osmond Brothers. 

I just had to watch it. 

I didn't realize the video was the entire Wonderful World of Disney episode that aired back in 1970. It was a blast from the past--literally. At my part-time gig we discussed watching the show every Sunday night. It was something everyone did. I don't remember watching this particular episode, though. I think I would have remembered watching the Osmonds on national TV.

If you want to watch the episode, I highly recommend it. You can access the YouTube video: HERE. It's campy, cheesy, and definitely dated. It begins with Kurt Russell finding the Osmond Brothers and making sure they're ready for the evening's concert. They also run into E. J. Peaker (Minnie Fay from Hello Dolly...). Soon the brothers become separated in a park with 50,000 people. Will the brothers find each other in time? Will the concert be a success? Can Kurt Russell sing? You'll have to watch to find out.

After the concert everyone checks out the Haunted Mansion, Donny's favorite ride. It would have recently opened back then and the episode was a way to showcase the new ride including some "behind-the-scenes" footage. The show also showcases the rest of the park as much as possible, as well as inserting musical numbers from the brothers and from Ms. Peaker.

I first went to Disneyland back in 1974, the year my father passed away. I don't remember much, but what I do remember about the park I saw on that video. It was a fun thing to watch.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Things Have Been Looking Up Lately...And By Things, I Mean Me

Maybe it's because of all the smoke in the air this summer. Maybe it's because I'm now working at home. Or maybe it's because the skies have been exceptionally beautiful lately.

Whatever the reason, I've been looking up lately, looking up to see incredible beauty above. And because I have a cell phone that takes reasonably good pictures, I've snapped and posted a few shots.

Of course, they're all not wonderful photos--some are better than others--but I took each picture because at the time, I was seeing something amazing, something that made me stop and take in the view. So, without a lot of words, I'm just going to leave these pictures here. And if the views continue to be wonderful, I'll keep taking pictures.

Monday, October 15, 2018

My First Cold Telecommute...

When you live in a climate where it freezes outside during the year, there's that one day when you know there'll be more cold days than warm ones. For many, they worry about the first frost, a cold that kills crops and signals the changing of the season.

Last night was that time for us.

I knew the cold weather was coming. This autumn's different for me. For the first time in twenty-one years, I'll be working at home through the winter. And that's something to consider when you're working in an unheated basement.

When we built the house fifteen years ago, we knew we wouldn't be finishing the basement--we needed a place to store stuff. We did put up insulation, but we never put in any heating or a/c vents. Over the years we've moved stuff in and moved stuff out of the storage room and we didn't need it to be "comfortable" in there. That changed once I got the assignment to work at home.

I first began working in the basement in the summer and in the mostly underground basement room, things were nice. It was cool when temperatures outside hovered around 100º. I'm not sure how cold it got last night--possibly freezing--but it was a tad chilly when I clocked in.

When I set up my office, I knew I'd need a heater. I found one online, and another in a thrift store. As long as I'm bundled up in layers, it's okay to be in the basement.

When I found out I was I was going to be working at home, I thought about how nice it would be not having to navigate the roads in the winter. I still look forward to staying at home when things get really bad. Happy to say that the first cold day (and they're going to get colder...) was a toasty success.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

What Did That Paper Sack Ever Do To Him...?

We have a puppy living in our house. If you've ever had a puppy living in your house, you know how they act, you know the things they do, you know it's an adventure and rarely a dull moment. You also know that puppies like to destroy things...basically anything they can sink their teeth into.

I'm not sure how we found out about our puppy's hatred toward paper sacks. I think he snagged a sack off of our kitchen table. That's not unusual--he snags several things from places he shouldn't be snagging. But it was what he did after he removed the sack from the table that made us stop and watch what he was doing.

In short, he shredded the sack. 

I mean, he really shredded it.

When he completed the shredding, the paper carnage surrounded him all over the floor. It was a sight to see. Yesterday, after we finished putting away all our groceries, several emptied sacks were around the kitchen. I tossed him one, took out my camera, and began filming. The entire film was too long to post here, so I chopped it up into three shorter videos. 

So, I present to you three short films, I call...

Sack Destruction: In Three Parts

Staring: Bec the Puppy.

By Scott Taylor