Monday, May 20, 2019

We've Got The Best Lawnmower...Or, The Best One We've Ever Had

Today we had a break in the weather, a day of non-rain so I decided to mow the lawn after work. Usually, there's no problem finding a day to mow the lawn, but this spring has been an extra wet one. It's supposed to rain for the next nine days.

And as I maneuvered the lawnmower up and down the yard, around rocks, cable boxes, and sidewalks, I realized that our lawnmower kicks butt. I'm glad we bought it a few years ago.

Before we found the mower we have now, we did our research. We couldn't afford a nice rider mower so we needed a standard push model. And we needed a self-propelled lawnmower, too. Why make it harder on ourselves than it should be? We still love technology. Our neighbor told us that mowers where the back wheels are powered work best. We found the one we wanted at Sears, a Craftsman.

The thing has been so great for us. It's never not started. We've not mistreated it or anything, but I suppose we could have taken better care of it. It's showing its mileage. We had to replace the power cord. The foam around handle is falling apart, and we had to use Gorilla tape to cover the holes on the collector bag.

But, it's never let us down. Each spring it starts right up and it just keeps on going. I'm sure there are better mowers our there, ones that have all the bells and whistles. But for us, until the things breaks down and never works again, it'll be the best lawnmower we've ever had. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

So Long, Silver Bull...

We actually never got around to naming the Taurus. We used to name all our cars, but as years have come and gone, we've sort of got out of the habit. I think a good name would have been The Sliver Bull. We bought this car from my father-in-law around two years ago. At that time, it had been years since he was able to drive it. The car basically just sat in their garage. I know there were a lot of things he disliked about getting old, but not being able to drive was up there. And especially not being able to drive this particular car, was frustrating.

The thing is, he loved this car.

He often said it was the best car he ever owned.

We bought the car when we had three drivers in the house and another on the way. At the time we had the amount of the car in savings so it seemed like a good investment, another car with no car payment. My oldest son had a car of his own when we picked up the Taurus, but his car began to fall apart, so he began driving the Ford.

A few weeks ago my son bought another car of his own so once again, we faced the decision of whether or not we should sell it. Turns out, we did. We found a friend of the family that needed a car and they are particularly fond of Ford Tauruses. Turns out, they need a car for their son and the price was right.

It was bittersweet to see it drive away. Another change in our lives. When my mom passed away twelve years ago (I can't believe it's been that long...), as time went on, things would change and eventually, there would be fewer and fewer things to remind me of her. Selling the car is one more thing, one more change, one more memory of a great man that's no longer in our lives. We are glad,  however, we sold it to a family that needs it and will appreciate it, so for them, the car will turn into a good memory. At least, we hope so.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Things I Didn't Know Yesterday...The Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar

I've seen these moths around, of course. I always thought they looked cool. When I first see them I think they're hummingbirds, but I can always tell they're not--they're not as smart as hummingbirds. Hummingbirds would never let me get as close to them as I got when I snapped a couple of pictures and even shot a short video.

I thought one of the photos might work well as my Pic Of The Day for Thursday. I used one and it was a good choice for my daily picture.

I'm glad I have friends who are so much smarter than me.

After posting the picture, I had some comments on it. Seems a lot of people didn't have as big a problem with the moth, but with the moth before it becomes a moth. Turns out a lot of people don't like tomato hornworm caterpillars. 

Our history of planting, cultivating, and harvesting tomatoes on our property is a tale of woe. We had a few successful seasons, but then...nothing. We stopped trying to grow tomatoes all together. I guess if I saw one of those big green hornworms crawling around, I wouldn't have thought twice. According to a quick internet search, the caterpillars can also wipe out: 

eggplants, bell peppers, and potatoes.

Fortunately for us, we don't try growing any of those vegetables, either.

So, I'll leave the house tomorrow wiser, more knowledgeable when it comes to the tomato hornworm caterpillar and the moth that reminds me of hummingbirds. I'm glad I have intelligent friends, because of all the things I don't know...

But may know tomorrow.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Hanging Out At My Friday Gig...

On most Fridays, I commute (my longest commute of the week...) to a small office in the Salt Lake Valley. It's a small-ish unobtrusive office. Unless you know where it is, you'd most likely drive right by it. But in that little office, magic is made.

In 2013 a group of people got together and put together a convention, the first of its kind in the state. I doubt even they knew how successful that first show would be or that it would still be going strong six years later. I'm one of the lucky ones. I've been fortunate enough to be involved in each show, each convention. This last one, however, the one in April, I helped out in a different way. 

I had responsibilities.

Like most people, I have a day job. It's a good job that provides food, shelter, transportation, and cable/internet for the family. But my job doesn't require a lot of creativity. In fact, working with the government, they frown on being "creative" in my daily duties. I'm to do my job by the book, according to policy, or else I'm doing it wrong.

That's why I enjoy helping out at FanX so much. I work with people who entertain for a living, writers, artists, performers, musicians, be it part-time or full-time--there's something in their life that makes them create. It's a sometimes difficult world to live in, but it's also an amazing one.

The work I do during the week is important. I provide vital necessities for some of the most needing people in our society. But I also help provide something important to a lot of other people, the ability to enjoy themselves, to lose themselves in a world of fantasy and make believe. The gig I have on Fridays is about as far from the one I have the rest of the week. It's satisfying, just in different ways.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Bountiful Chalk Festival, I Fear...Is Going To Be A Little Wet This Year

The first hint that things would probably not work out this year was a quick look at the weather app on my phone.

A week of rain.

Of course, the app can do no better than predict the possibility of rain, but when the clouds gathered this afternoon and the first few drops dirtied the windows of our unprotected car windows, that's when I knew all the work that had already taken place a few miles south of us was being washed away.


It's a shame, too, because I'm sure the artists had put in a lot of work and had planned to put in even more.

Get Inspired at the Chalk Art Festival in Bountiful Utah

Two days ago I drove through Bountiful's Main Street. There were dozens--maybe hundreds--of chalk drawings in various states of completion. There were even people wandering about taking in the art and enjoying themselves. I've never actually gotten out and looked at all the cool chalk masterpieces during the festival, but I have driven through and seen--from a driver's perspective--the amazing things people created. The above picture was found on-line from festival's past.

Looks like this year's event will be called on account of the weather.

There's lots of social events that take weather into account. A lot of weddings, for example, will make plans for a nice outdoor affair, but they schedule a building just in case. I really can't see how the chalk festival can accommodate for rain. It's just one of those things.

So, to all the artists and art lovers watching their works circle the drain, I feel for you. Making art is always a gamble. Sometimes you bet on black and hit red. Let's hope next year, we're precipitation-free.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Finally Watched "The Saratov Approach"...Powerful

I remember telling Garrett, the film's director, that we would most likely not be watching his film for a while. We met at a signing years ago and that's where I picked up a copy of the film. It was after the theatrical release and the film had gone to DVD. I told him it was in no way a reflection of the amazing job he did to write and direct the film. It's because we had a son out on a mission at the time.

Even though my son was serving in California and not Russia, I still didn't think we could handle seeing a story about a couple of LDS missionaries getting kidnapped and threatened with death.

And because life happens, our copy of the film was set aside.

Until today. Today's when I watched it and today's when I realized a couple of things:

1. It's a powerful film, well written, beautifully filmed, directed, and acted.

And 2. I was right--there's no way we could have gotten through while our son was out doing the same things as these two young men.

I knew the story, and since both missionaries gave interviews at the time of the film's release, I knew they survived their ordeal. But a good film can make you forget, or at least, suspend your knowledge base and get lost in the story.

Like millions of others before me, I put on suit and the black name tag and lived two years away from home. I lived in northern Europe and I identified with some of what they when through--learning a different (and difficult...) language, finding few who wanted to hear our message, the cold. I never experienced anything like what happened to them. The film put me in their shoes and made me ask myself what would I have done in the same situation.

It hit close to home. 

It's been several years since the director and I chatted in a local bookstore in downtown Salt Lake City. I should have watched the film sooner, but I'm glad I finally did. It's a story that deserved to be told and fortunately for us, a talented team of cast and crew did just that. In the comments on the DVD, the director said he gets notes and messages from people every day telling him the message of the film affected them. I know it's been a few years, but my message can be added to theirs. It's a good film, a great story, and I'm glad I watched it.

I'm also glad I didn't watch it years ago.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Doing A Little Digital Spring Cleaning...

You see, I'm frugal, or some would say cheap. Heck, I'd call me cheap. I'm so cheap that when time comes for me to purchase things such as electronic equipment, I look for a bargain. The problem with that is, I don't get top of the line.

And when you don't get top of the line, you get electronic things that don't have a lot of memory. Today I tried to download something on my tablet I had recorded on our DVR. Turns out, I didn't have the space necessary for the download. Time for a little spring cleaning. 

Where to start?

One place is text messages.

Now, I'm not saying the reason my message folder 1.05 gigs of digital information was all Steve's fault. I'm to blame for some of that stuff...all those pictures. I added a few of them. But, to clear space, something had to give.

Before the cleaning the folder was 1.05 gigs. After I deleted my conversation with Steve, it was 898 megs. 

In addition to being cheap, I'm also a hoarder. I hoard digital stuff. I should probably go through my phone, tablet, and laptop on a regular basis, otherwise I end up with anti-hipster pictures and sometimes hilarious banter.

Yes, I should clean up things more than just in spring.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Almost A Month To Go...Until Fyrecon 3!

I heard a couple of radio ads for next month's Fyrecon 3 today. They're great and they got me excited for the event. The third incarnation happens June 20 - 22 at the Weber State University Davis Campus in Layton. It's such a perfect place to hold a conference.

Of course, I'm biased to the location. It's where most of the classes for my master's degree were held. Back then (and it was only ten years ago...) there was only one building. Now there's two. Another reason I like the location is because it's only 10 - 15 minutes from my home. After attending a slug of conferences in Utah County, I'm all for holding more up north.

I know I hype this particular conference each year. As a writer with some success, I like attending events where ego doesn't drive everything. Truth be told, most of the conferences I attend there's not a lot of ego involved, and if there is, I usually don't feel it. With Fyrecon, there's a real sense that you can hang out with successful writers and artists. You can also spend time with people just like you who have normal questions about writing, publishing, editing, and marketing. There's not a lot of opportunities for your average person to have access to this much information. It's unique and wonderful.

Schedules are being finalized now. You can, by accessing their website (click: HERE for the Fyrecon website), to see the Master Guests who will be teaching at the conference. I've attended panels with many of them--they're knowledge and experience is amazing! Definitely worth the cost of admission.

I plan on writing more blog posts as the conference gets closer. But, if you're looking for a good conference to attend--even for your children who are interested in writing and art to attend--please check out Fyrecon. We're almost a month away!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Missing Mom On Mother's Day...

The older I get, the more my friends go through the same thing I did eleven years ago. 

The day - Mother's Day, 2008.

That was the first time in my life I spent Mother's Day without my mom. Sure, I had been away from her on a couple of those Mother's Days, but that Sunday in May of 2008 no plane could have taken me to her, no car or train or boat could bring us together. She passed eleven months earlier.

And because of social media, I can keep in touch with thousands of friends, and millions of strangers expressing the love and appreciation for their mothers, grandmothers, wives and sisters. Personally, I love reading all the posts--even from those I don't know--of regular people telling one of the most important people in their life how much they love them.

Social media allows us to see the good things that happen to people, but we also get to share their pain and heartache. This year, millions will log on and tell a story how this year is different, this Mother's Day has forever changed for them and their family. Because this year, their mother, their matriarch, their rock, is gone, and they face a day full of unknowns. They've never had a Mother's Day where they can't visit, call, or send a card with flowers. They can't sit down and share a meal or remember a childhood memory.

And they never will again.

Saying goodbye at a funeral service is tough, sometimes unbearable. But, the heart heals as the realization of life is accepted. Then, comes the holidays and you get kicked in the gut again. And when the holidays that center around the person--even celebrating the person gone--it's even tougher.

For all of you missing your mom for the first time, to those who can't call or laugh or hug the woman who loved you for a million reasons, or just because you were you, I pray you'll be comforted, I pray for peace. May you remember those beautiful women forever in your hearts. Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Hope you had a wonderful day.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Your Own Personal Astroids Machine...Turning Back Time

I spotted the machine a few weeks ago, but the crowds at Costco kept me from it. This morning, however, I arrived early to buy things completely unassociated with this item. Because there were so few people in the store, I was able to draw close, and even give it a try.

Instantly I was a pre-teen in the Farmington A/G store with my childhood friends, lining up quarters, finally able to play my favorite video game.

I mean, I have no idea how many Astroids video game consoles they built in the late 1970s--I would suspect millions. I'll bet if I looked on-line I could find an operating machine from that time, one that requires quarters to work, one that has the original Atari name--the world's first great video game manufacturer--proudly displayed for all to see.

The thing at Costco costs $200. There's a question about who exactly is this marketed for? Is it for kids? Most likely not. For kids this is like preferring a Sony Walkman over their smartphone. No, I'm their target audience. Which brings up another question--if it's for aging video gamers who were born before the invention of Pong, why is it so small? It it weren't raised up a foot or so, I would have had to bend down to play it.

I don't know. Maybe it's for aging video gamers who think it would be a great gift for their kids (or grandkids...), but really they want to play it themselves. And I wonder how many of the units they've moved since it first hit the sales floor.

Of course, I did not buy it. I've got an infinite number of games available on my phone or the laptop on which I'm typing this blog post. Still, there was something about seeing the most basic of computer effects, the feeling of the hard plastic buttons responding to my touch. Turns out there's a price to have a piece of your childhood returned to you.

It's $199.99, plus tax.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Gracie...20_ _(?) - 2019

Wednesday I made the call. Looking back, that was the hardest thing. Because once that call was made, the decision was final. Sure, we could have called and said we'd changed our minds, but the reality was was the time.

Back in January 2012 we visited some neighbors. Outside their house was a cat. The neighbors love cats so we wondered why this one was outside in the middle of winter. Turns out this cat was a stray and they were feeding it, but not allowing it inside in case it turned out to be sick (they didn't want their animals to catch anything...). 

When I saw that cat, I wanted to rescue it. That's just what we did. We drove down and brought her home. Her name was Gracie.

Today, with tears and broken hearts, we buried Gracie in the yard.

I've only had one pet we had to put down. When I was thirteen I got a dog, Tasha, a shih tzu/little neighborhood dog mix. She was a great dog and lived seventeen years. When we put Tasha down, she was blind, deaf, and her back legs were paralyzed. It was definitely time. 

With Gracie, her physical downfall was much slower. In fact, ever since we brought her home more than seven years ago, she was unwell. In the last year, we noticed a dramatic change. She wasn't the same animal. She was losing weight and not making it to the litter box in time more often than not.

We tried everything the vets told us to do. She got steroid shots again and again. And they helped, but as the vet said, not as long as he would have liked. Turns out, not as long as we would have liked as well.

After months and months of deliberation and hours and hours of discussion, we came to the painful conclusion it was time. The last thing we wanted was for our friend to slowly decline to the point where her suffering went unnoticed. Her condition was inoperable--she would never get better. As her guardian and friend, we needed to do what was best for her. That's not always what we'd like.

Wednesday, I made the call setting up the appointment. Today, as my wife held our little beautiful friend, we said goodbye. We brought her home and buried her in the yard where she loved to explore, in a box we signed. We'll miss your little face and your sweet little spirit. Goodnight, Gracie. Until we meet again.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Fixing The Ford...

When we acquired my father-in-law's car, the vehicle was in pristine condition. My in-laws pride themselves in taking care of things--their house, their yard, and their vehicles. Because of his declining health, my father-in-law's Ford stayed mostly tucked away in the garage. After we bought it, we let our oldest son use it for work, school, and for going on dates.

It was the dates that put the miles on the car.

That happens when your girlfriend lives two counties over.

But we don't mind. We're glad he had reliable transportation for him to use.

There was one tiny issue with the car and it had to do with the back middle break light. In a word, its condition was: jimmy-rigged. My in-laws had fixed it, but it was a temporary fix at best. Since my son bought a new car, the idea of selling the trusty Ford has crossed our minds. And we don't want to sell a car with an unfixed back middle break light.

It needed to be fixed.

I had an idea on how to fix it--it was more conceptual seeing as how I had never fixed a problem like that before. I thought if I could find the hardware, it should be done quickly. Amazingly, I was able to find everything I needed in our random nuts, bolts, washers, and other odds-and-ends jar. I couldn't believe my luck. After several awkward turns of a screw, everything was in place--we had a complete car once again.

Back in the day, I drove VW beetles. I did a lot of fixing on those cars, much of it definitely not up to VW certified mechanic's standard. Cars have changed so much since my 1965 beetle rolled off some assembly line (most likely in Mexico...). There's a lot I cannot fix, but tonight, I was able to fix the Ford.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

That Time I Was On A "In The Telling" Podcast Episode...

I knew my friend Liz Christensen had begun a new podcast promoting storytelling in all its incarnations. I even blogged about it when it came out. I've enjoyed the episodes already out there in the podcast universe. It's been fun for me because she's interview many of my writing friends. I know Liz from theater and not a lot of my theater friends interact with my writing friends.

A few weeks ago Liz contacted me. She wanted to do an interview for an upcoming episode. Of course, I agreed. We recorded last Friday. The episode came out Tuesday, and I heard it this morning. I recommend you listen to every episode she's made, but I have to say, I'm definitely partial to this latest one. You can access the episode by clicking: HERE, or you can do a quick In The Telling search in the iTunes Store.

I'm not the only one interviewed. Liz's style is to interview multiple people and combine guests's comments. And in so doing, she uses other's memories and experiences to tell a unique story where points are made, impressions given, and hopefully, minds opened.

In the latest episode, there's three of us interviewed, myself, musician Columbia Jones, and artist/educator Jordan C. Brun. Each of us have different careers, different family situations, different goals, but we do share one thing--a desire/need to create. I love how Liz uses our stories to show there are always different perspectives on life. She's really good at it, a natural interviewer.

If you've never heard the InThe Telling podcast before, give this one a shot. And Columbia's song at the end is good--worth the price of admission. Thanks Liz for giving me the opportunity! It was fun.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

What I Was Looking At...A Year Ago Today

Sometimes, when I'm kicking back thinking about what to blog about, I think about the day that's been, and sometimes, that makes me think about what I blogged about on this particular day a year ago, five years ago, or longer. The great thing about keeping records, is you can always go back and see.

That's what I did tonight.

What I found wasn't the greatest revelation, but it did make me smile.

Has it really be one year?

I remember posting the picture. We had been at Walmart during the day and I noticed a couple of items, a portable CD player and a digital voice recorder. I remember snapping the picture because you don't see much of these items anymore, let alone being able to buy them new. Yes, those awful smartphones have put so many digital voice recorder and portable CD makers out of work.

I remember getting several comments after posting the picture. Apparently, others found the picture amusing as well.

Since I've posted a picture everyday, I could have gone back and looked at the picture I posted in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011. I've done that before for a blog post. But tonight, I remembered that one picture.

And it made me smile.

Monday, May 6, 2019

"Grifty Shades Of Fey"...A New Project

Everything big once was small. The mighty oak came from an acorn. A Great Dane grew from an adorable puppy. A Monster Truck began life as a Smart Car.

Okay, that last part probably isn't true, but you get the idea. If you never start small, you'll never grow big.

A friend reached out to see if I would help spread the word about a new project. It's a small press publisher project and it will be titled, Grifty Shades of Fey, cautionary tales uncovering the darker side of the Fair Folk. The project is from FV Press. You can access their Kickstarter site by clicking: HERE.

What's Grifty Shades of Fey about? Good question.

From their website:

In spite of all of the ethereal opposition thrown our way by lawn gnomes, the FV Press team is excited to present Grifty Shades of Fey: Cautionary Tales Uncovering the Darker Side of the Fair Folk*. 

Most likely we are stepping into a mountain of curses, ensuring a plentitude of ingrown toenails, curdled milk, lost pets, and other tricksy pixie mischief, but we are willing to endure it all if we can provide the world fantastic fiction! 

*Despite any coincidental similarities in title to a certain book, Grifty Shades of Fey will not contain mature content--sure there are naughty fairies, but not that kind of naughty fairies.

I love projects that give those who love a particular genre a chance to have their work live, breath, and entertain. If you think this is a project worth supporting, click on the website and help them out. It means the world to them knowing there are people out there who care about the same things they do. And, after all, doesn't the world need more stories of grifty fairies?

Yes it does.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Completing The Entertainment/Exercise Center...

Saturday, I was doing a little weekend shopping, at my favorite shopping spot--our local neighborhood thrift store. That's when a thought hit me.

I should look for a Wii gaming console.

Sometimes I go to our neighborhood thrift store to look for a specific item. I've done well when I do that. Of course, I can't have too high of standards. I pretty much know if I need to buy an electric line trimmer, there's probably a couple at the store, and if they're not there, they'll probably have a couple to choose from in a week or so.

Over the years I've found many things I've specifically went to the store to find. This was one of those times. Saturday, I'm looking in the electronics department (not much there...) and the thought hits me. I should look for a Wii because I could use it on breaks at work--you know, for exercising. I did a quick search on the shelves...


I thought maybe they would have one in the glass cabinets at the front of the store. I took five steps, turned, and right there, sitting on a cart they use to haul out the new "goodies," it a Wii unit. Unbelievable. I plugged it in, it light up, but all the cables needed to make sure it worked properly were missing. I decided that I could buy it and it if worked, I just scored a first-edition Wii gaming console, and if it didn't work, I just donated $15 to the thrift store.

I brought it home, hooked it up (I found that inside the unit was the incredible game Dance Party 2...), crossed my fingers and I waited to see if the unit worked. Turns out, it did. Just to make sure, I turned on the game and rocked out to It's Raining Men. I didn't too bad, if I don't say so myself, somewhere in the 70% accurate range.

It's interesting. I hooked up my thrift store Wii to my thrift store TV. And if I can keep up an exercise regimen, then my entertainment/exercise center will be complete, thanks to some fortuitous circumstances and a well-stocked neighborhood thrift store.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

So...My Son Bought A Swedish Car

A few years ago my neighbor bought a car. As far as I know it may be the first Swedish-built car to ever have an owner live on our little cul-de-sac. I've not lived on this street for about a half-dozen years, but I stayed in touch. We've had Fords, Chevys, VWs, BMWs, Chryslers, Toyotas, Subarus, Nissans (then Datsun...), Dodges, Plymouths, and even Buicks. Pretty sure this was the first Volvo.

When I think of Swedish cars, I think of a couple of things. I lived for two years in Denmark and there were literally boat-loads of Saabs and Volvos. I also think of a wonderful book and movie, A Man Called Ove. The man in the film loved Saabs, his neighbor Volvos. Unfortunately, Saabs didn't make it. I won't spoil the book and/or film disclosing anything else.

My sister owned a Volvo once. She's driven a lot of cars over the years. She drove Mercedes Benzs, and high-end Suburbans among others. She loved her Volvo...missed it after it was gone. The neighbor's Volvo was replaced by a new daily driver last year, but the owner still drove the Volvo because he liked driving it so much. 

For the past couple of weeks, my son's been considering getting a car of his own. He had his eye on a Toyota Corolla. That's when I remembered the neighbor had considered selling his blue-gray Volvo, but kept it around. Right after I told my son, he went right over to their house and came back the proud owner of a clean (in my opinion, beautiful...) Swedish automobile.

I guess he's the second Volvo owner on our street since it was first established in 1969.

I've driven Toyotas for the past decade or so. We've loved them. We have history with the brand. And resale values confirm our opinions. I posted a picture of the iconic VOLVO within a circle and an arrow on social media after my son bought his car. I had one comment say they had owned a couple of Volvos and they loved them. Of course, others said "they're boxy, but they're good," something I've always considered when thinking about Volvos.

I guess time will tell how the car treats him, and how treats the car. I'm glad he picked it up. It's a cool car.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Wild Bill's Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co...Amazing

I've seen them before--hundreds, if not thousands of large mugs in various colors, all originating from one place, one single booth that did a killer business at the con. I'm talking about Wild Bill's Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co.

I was in awe.

At the last FanX Comics Convention in Salt Lake, I had an assignment right next to the Wild Bill's Olde Fashioned Soda Pop Co. booth (you can access their website by clicking: HERE). I'd seen those large, very cool-looking steins at previous shows. I never took advantage of the product. I'm kind of frugal/cheap at shows (and most other places, too...). I didn't realize just how successful their operation was until I worked alongside their booth. 

Their booth was so packed, from the minute the floor opened until the floor closed. They had lines as long as those for people waiting to meet celebrities. And the reason is this: Wild Bill's is a marketing wonder. The mugs are expensive--there's no other way to put it, but once you buy the mug, you get free refills, and you can use that mug at any of the 500 or so events they do each year. For $5 you can get unlimited daily fills at any future event. 

You want to successfully market your product, do this:

First, you get a cool looking mug. Make sure that mug is memorable. These things are big and shiny and beautiful. So everyone packing these things around are doing your advertising for you. And that line of people getting refills was long and stayed long during the entire event. I never paid attention to the marketing side of things before, but after spending a couple of days next to Wild Bill's, I was a convert. They sure know what they're doing.

Now, I have my own mug. I'm planning on being at the next FanX event in September. According to Wild Bill's website, they'll be there, too. I got my mug as the convention closed so I didn't have a chance to enjoy the product. I'm looking forward to do just that. In a way though, it'll be a shame to use the mug for its intended purpose. I mean, it's nice enough to put on a shelf as a work of art. Then again, I am a sucker for a good deal. I'll let you know what happens come next September.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Mystery Of The Lego Moroni...

When I saw the post on social media, I almost didn't believe it. Not because I didn't think it was possible, but because I didn't think that particular organization would do such a thing.

The social media post listed instructions, instructions on how to change to app icon picture. The app is a resource guide for our church. And the person on the app is named Moroni. He lived in Ancient America around 400 A.D. Of course, many believe him to be fictional, a character created from a man's imagination. Personally, I believe him to be real.

You may have seen this man holding a trumpet if you've ever passed, and taken notice of, a Latter-Day Saint Temple. Temples have a man, dressed in a robe, blowing a trumpet. Oh, and he's gold. This is Moroni and he's a symbol of the church, so much so, he's the figure on the app icon picture.

I don't know how someone figured it out, but with a few simple moves, the app icon picture could be changed, and the picture I wanted--and eventually got--was hands down, the best picture of them all, the Lego Moroni!

I mean, how cool is that?

Like I said, it wasn't that this sort of thing was possible, it's just I didn't think the church would have allowed this to be done, or that instructions on how to change the picture would be leaked. But however it happened, it was cool. 

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised when I saw another post today, except this post threw cold water of my fire of excitement. The Lego Moroni and other app icon pictures were no more. Apparently, a new update was released and once you download the update...poof--Bye bye Moroni, at least, the Lego variety.

At first, I was confused when I knew the change was possible. then I guess I was not surprised when it went away. So long, Lego Moroni. It was fun while it lasted.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

It's Blooming Time...And Then It's Not

Spring is beautiful. There's no denying it. It's beautiful outside in the spring. My only issue is the pollen that's bursting from almost every possible plant is trying to do me in. I've lived with it for over five decades, but on a night like tonight, the pollen's winning. I just have to ride it out.

The trouble with all the beauty, all the blossoms and blooms out there, is if you live in an area like ours, there's bound to be spring storms, sometimes they get down right harsh. In the past couple of weeks we've had thunderstorms, winds, rain, and even a skiff of snow this morning. Those delicate little blossoms just can't withstand the forces of nature.

Every year I hope they were around long enough to do the job for which they were created so the circle of life can go on.

There's a new shopping center where we live--I guess it's been around for several years now. They planted a lot of trees and they were in full bloom. It was a sight. I happened to drive through there during a wind storm. I tried videotaping it because it looked so cool having all those blossoms flying around. The video didn't catch the coolness.

We'll have to wait another eleven months or so to see the blossoms again. And they won't last long. Better photograph them when you have the chance.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Breaking Up A Family...

We met Sunday night, just a few of us, in a room. A awfully big family, but a family nonetheless.

That's when we learned they're breaking up the family.

I live in a small-ish community in Utah. Utah is, for lack of a better word, unique, especially when it comes to religion. One particular religion is so prevalent in our little town that almost everyone claims membership (or, at one point did...). When you're talking tens of thousands of people, that creates a logistical situation. Not everyone can attend church at the same time--the building's not that big. 

Because there's so many members, congregations must be split into smaller groups. These groups become family, a spiritual family. You see them on Sundays and because they're your neighbors, you see them during the week. We come to love these people. And, why not? They're family.

Since change is the only real constant, time came where the family must be split. We've outgrown our home and so changes must be made. This weekend, we found out what those changes are. We knew changes were coming, but not what they were. Now we know.

I've lived in this little town for almost fifty years. In that time I've lived through several boundary changes. It's never easy. I was sure we would be split off, added to a new family where friendships would be made, relationships started, bonds formed.

Yes, changes were made, but we stayed with our adopted family (adopted back in the late 1970s...). Others were not spared from the boundary change. They'll be the ones making new friends as their new family forms. 

Families have issues. Families have struggles, but they also have memories and special moments. The family gathered Sunday night to hear of the changes. Some left relieved, but sad. Others left nervous and heartbroken, just like any family...the unknowns are what make life interesting.