Sunday, March 31, 2019

To Those On Google +...Goodnight And God Bless

It's been a few months since the news hit, that the Google + social network was closing down. It made sense--it didn't catch on like other social media platforms. It was just...there--a reliable place to go.

Now, it'll join the others that have gone the way of all the earth.

It's been interesting reading some of the farewell posts on the website. It's normal for people to express their thoughts and memories. For some, Google + was amazing, wonderful, a place to connect, to communicate, to associate with others. 

For me...well, it was a place for an occasional funny post and to see some beautiful photography.

Because it was created, it had to end. Eventually Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram--they'll all die, and the people who interact on those sites will have to find something else to take its place. Today it's Google +. Tomorrow it'll be another one.

Goodnight Google + and all involved. You were the old reliable place to hang out. Looks like we'll need to find a new place to go.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Kind Of Like Christmas...In March

After running a few errands this morning, having breakfast, and putting in a load of laundry, I took a trip to our local thrift store. It had been a while since I had the opportunity to meander through the aisles in search of treasures. Plus, there were some items I had been asked to "look for" for others.

Turns out, I hit the jackpot!

Or jackpots, depending on how you look at it.

A few days ago I was asked if I knew of place that sold telephone answering machines. They only needed the answering machine part. It was the first thing I searched for and the first thing I put in the shopping cart.

Last night one of my children mentioned to us that he was thinking about getting a bicycle. Guess what the thrift store has? Bicycles. Most are junk, but a few--including a nice blue Schwinn Frontier--were in good shape. After a few text messages including photos to see if the item passed muster, I picked up the bike.

Another child asked us the other day how much a tower fan cost. I said I wasn't sure, but something I was sure of is that I had seen a couple of tower fans at our local thrift store the last time I went. Sure enough, they had a couple today. After testing it to make sure it worked (it did...), I put it in the cart.

There's another member of the family that always appreciates gifts, only this one can't speak. The puppy loves new things to rip apart--the bigger the better. When I saw the big tan bear, and considering it was only a couple of bucks, the puppy was getting something fun.

Last of all, I checked the shoes. I don't need any more pairs of shoes, but I always check. It's amazing how some incredible shoes can be found in thrift stores. Back in high school, when Vans shoes were all the rage, I had a pair, but I could afford multiple pairs--they're kind of like Swatch watches, you know--finding a pair of authentic well-worn Vans is a find.

I picked up the shoes...they were for me. After picking up things for family, I bought a pair of shoes for me. Today was kind of like Christmas, in March.

And it was fun.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Check Out My Friend's ETSY Site...And Support A Good Cause

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I've blogged about Nathan before. He's another friend who's wicked talented. Not only does he write amazing stories and novels, but he also edits anthologies and runs websites with original comics and commentary on bad book covers.

And if that's not enough, they guy's an amazing artist.

Because Nathan's also a great dad, he's using his artistic talents to help out his daughter who has been given an incredible opportunity--an internship on Broadway.

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Check out Nate's ETSY website: HERE. Each drawing, each original work of art is unique. I know art is subjective, but even if you don't like the subject, you've got to appreciate the artistic skill involved.

Supporting artists and creatives types helps in many ways. It helps the creator and their family. It helps those who buy the art because they have something tangible in return. If you get a chance, check out his site and the art. If nothing else, you'll see something you've never seen before, and if you do choose to support the family, you'll be doing a good thing.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Story Of A Half A Million Dollar Family Income...And Feeling Blessed

Maybe you heard about Kathleen Elkins's story at CNBC that's currently floating around the digital universe. Maybe not. If you want to read it yourself, click: HERE to access the story. It's about how a couple earning $500k is barely making ends meet.

Of course, there's the obvious "knee-jerk" reactions. It's easy to look at others and see where they've failed. It's the old "beam in your eye" way of looking at life. I don't know these people at all. I really have no right to judge them, even though the story almost requires that we do.

First of all, I can't imagine dealing with this kind of money. It's so foreign, so strange. I mean, I know there are people who earn this and many who earn much much more. Looking at the numbers--all those zeros--my eyes glaze over. What these people pay for childcare alone is staggering, even though you want to make sure you don't skimp on care for your children.'s a lot.

I think the biggest change for us is this--they have costs we just don't have. We don't pay for childcare. We don't pay for student loans--we did, but no longer. We don't have car payments, we don't pay for vacations, children's lessons, and pay much less on the other items found on their list.

Then again, since they're lawyers (two lawyers, each making $250k per year...) I'm sure they work more than the standard 40 hours/week so they've got to pay for childcare and the vacations are more like therapy than what I would consider a vacation. 

Another difference: we're a single-income family and we have six people--five adults and one teenager--not four like their family. Our newest car is twelve-years old. The last family vacation we went on was in 2013. We homeschool--it's a decision we made over two decades ago, a decision that's affected not just the kids's lives, but almost everything else--the way we live, the way we socialize, our perspectives on politics, religion, environmentalism, philosophy...everything.

Like I stated, it's easy to judge. I can look at a family bringing in half a million dollars and think they have it made. And yet, to 90% + of the world's population, they can look at our family and think we've got it made. We have a home--modest by our neighbor's standards, but extravagant by the world's standards. We have three cars, all older, but all running and paid off. Billions of people would feel blessed to have one. Why is it we always look at those who have more, earn more instead of looking at those who have less? Human nature, I guess.

The story is short and telling on many levels. For me, it made me realize just how blessed we are. Check the link above if you haven't already. It'll make you think.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Smell Of The Dirt...Somebody Must Be Building Something

There's buildin' going on in these here parts. It's exciting when people's plans are turned to actions, which, in turn, become realities. This afternoon I walked over to the building site. It's just a big pile of dirt and a big hole in the ground.

But, it's a beginning.

Ah...the smell of dirt. That smell brought back so many memories.

Growing up, of course, we played in the dirt. We made roads for our toy cars and trucks. We dug the dirt and moved it around with our Tonka dump trucks and excavators. As we grew, the vehicles became smaller and smaller until we were playing with Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars and trucks on smooth dirt roads.

One of my first jobs was being a planter at Miller Floral in my home town. The business was where the Jr. High School is now. Those who don't remember a time when the Jr. High didn't exist surely don't remember Miller Floral. I didn't work there long, but we dealt with dirt. I worked at another nursery after high school, Pineae Nursery. Once again, surrounded by dirt.

Before I got my last full-time job--about twenty-two years ago--I worked with my cousin's husband on his excavation crew. We worked on many projects, but I'll always remember the smell of the dirt as we put in roads and basements. If I were one who loved to work in the yard or the garden, I'd probably get hit with that smell a lot.

As I stated before, it's exciting. In a matter of months a structure will rise from the dirt. It will serve many purposes, a home, a space for storage, a dream fulfilled. And it all begins in the dirt.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Norway Vs. Sweden...I Love National Team Soccer!

Right now in Europe nations are at war. Instead of guns, they use their feet. In the place of tanks, planes, ships and bombs they use their heads and corner kicks. Though they don't have casualties, they have winners and losers.

It's soccer, at a national level.

For me, there is nothing, nothing, like national teams soccer. There are several reasons why Americans don't embrace this level of the sport like the rest of the world does, the biggest reason is that it's one of the few sports Americans don't dominate--at least, the men. We get beat by countries with 1/100th our population. We tie tiny Caribbean countries. We didn't even qualify for the last World Cup.

Then there's the game itself. It's not necessarily packed with goals. I get it...I understand. I admit, it's not for everyone. But on the internet they're playing qualifying games and tonight I caught the end of the Norway vs. Sweden match. 

It was a thing of beauty.

Norway was up 2 - 1. Things looked grim for the boys in yellow and gold. Then A Norwegian player tried to deflect a Swedish shot late in the game. He deflected the ball into his own goal.


Then Sweden scored again with only minutes to go. The Swedish fans in the Norwegian stadium were going nuts--ahead as time was running out.

Extra time.

Three minutes were added. A Swedish player goes down so they add a few minutes more. Norway earns a corner kick--their only corner in the game as the final extra minute ticks down. All eleven Norwegians--goalie included--rush the Swedish side. The kick flies toward the box and the ball finds its way in the net. 

Tied as the game is called.

There's so much more on the line than a game. It's national pride and sports and there's nothing in America that can compare. The closest thing might be the first Olympic USA Mens Basketball Dream Team in 1992. If you remember how you felt as an American watching the world's best represent the sport and the country, then you're understanding how the fans feel about their national soccer teams.

Yes, the battles will continue until, at a time in the future, the last team standing will raise the trophy signaling to all that the war has ended, at least temporarily, until the next war begins.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Discovering "Gilmore Girls"...Just A Couple Of Decades Late

We do live in amazing times. I've written that exact statement more than once on this blog post. Just about every aspect of our lives in this modern society is like nothing that's ever preceded it.

Case in point:


Just log on to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu (and that's not counting the network or cable or networks...) and you'll see dozens and dozens of original content movies and series. Just like there's no time to read all the books in the library, there's no way to watch everything out there.

But back at the turn of the latest century, a person could probably watch every show out there--assuming they had a lot of VHS tapes to record everything. One show that premiered in 2000 was Gilmore Girls.

We just began watching it.

I had heard about the show, but it was something I didn't think I'd be interested in. Then I began to attending writing conventions and hanging out with geeks and nerds. Again, you'd think the show might not be something most geeks and nerds would watch.

Turns out, many do.

I remember hearing many authors talk specifically about the writing of the show and when writers I admire praise a show, I take notice. And they were right. Of course, good writing is made exponentially better with talented actors and Gilmore Girls hit a home run with their leads. We're only on the second season but it hasn't disappointed. The only thing I worry about is this--parents can get into trouble when they go out of their way to be "best friends" with their kids. I'm not saying you shouldn't be friends with your kids--I consider myself friends with my children, but you should be a parent first.

I don't know how this may affect future episodes and storylines. It may never come into play, but because of modern miracles, we get to burn through the entire series in a matter of weeks (maybe months...) as opposed to years.

We do live in amazing times.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Driving In A Spring Storm...

We live in a desert. I learned back in college when I took a desert backpacking class at the U of U (great class, by the way...) that it's unusual for a desert to be found at such a high latitude as we are. The desert was created when the plates under the area shifted. This shift caused the water to leave quickly and because of this swift exit of water, you get Horseshoe Bend, Natural Bridges National Park, and the Grand Canyon.

Because all this water left, there wasn't the normal water on the ground. Without the water to evaporate and turn into clouds, the area had reduced rainfall, and thus = desert.

This year's winter and spring (even though we've only had three days of spring...) has been a wet one. And the past twenty-four hours has continued the trend.

I grew up here so I'm used to it raining occasionally. When you grow up in a place, that becomes "normal." When you get older, meet new people, visit new locations, you find out what their normal is and their normal can be a lot different from yours. The first time I experienced this in a "big way" was when I moved to Denmark. Let's just say that Denmark and Utah are different, in some ways, about as different as two places can be--the weather being just one of them. 

It rains a lot in Denmark, like every day. When your country's small, is surrounded by oceans and seas, and has absolutely no mountains, the clouds fly over, drop rain in buckets then build up again. And green--that place has plants in hues of green I had never seen before--absolutely beautiful.

We visited friends at their church this morning. On the drive home, it really came down. Right before we exited a crash in the carpool lane slowed down traffic. Good thing--there were inches of standing water in some areas...probably a factor in the crash.

I'm not smart enough to pretend to know why we're having such a wet year, and one wet season does not establish a trend. I don't know if this will become our new "normal" and if it does, hopefully, we'll all become better rainy day drivers. Time will tell.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Happy Puppy Day...To All The Puppies Out There!

Apparently, it's National Puppy Day, and for the first time in thirteen years, we have a puppy in the house.

At least, for another week.

Last summer we (and by "we" I mean, our son...) adopted/rescued a poodle. In another week the puppy will turn one and will no longer be a puppy...officially. It's been a wild nine months.

Years ago, we brought the cutest little shih tzu into our family. As dogs go, she has been an incredible dog. Yes, she's head-strong and she used to bark every time the doorbell rang. And because we chose the same doorbell sound that is used as a sound effect on television shows and movies, she barked every time the doorbell rang on a show, too.

We no longer have to worry about the little dog barking when the doorbell sound rings--either on TV/movies or in real life. The dog's pretty much deaf.

That is not the case with the puppy. His hearing is perfect. He can hear the most distant neighbor dog barking and, of course, he must join in. Having a puppy is just like having a baby in the house, because that's what he is--a baby dog. There's training that must be done, attitudes adjusted, lessons learned.

We know that in the coming weeks all the mannerisms of puppyhood will not suddenly disappear. Some issues will still take time. But, for this day, and for more than the past half year, we've had a puppy in the house.

And our lives changed forever.

Friday, March 22, 2019

The "I See You" Podcast...Helping Through Communication And Understanding

I first met Julie at a book fair last month. She and I were among the authors invited to speak to the children and their parents about writing. Like the other authors, we spread out our books, the different titles offering a literary choice for the guests.

Julie had a single title.

It became evident as the children and parents came in and interacted with us, that Julie's mission wasn't necessarily to sell books--it was to help people. She talked to the kids, asked them what they liked to do, what they liked to read. I noticed one of the signs she put up advertised her podcast, I See You. Podcasts seem to be the twenty-first century version of living in L.A. and writing a screenplay. Everyone seems to have one.

Some are good--some are not.

Since I love podcasts, I asked about hers. She explained a little what it was, what she was trying to do with it. I found it interesting. 

I gave it a shot.

I'm now a fan.

To give you an idea of what I See You is all about, the best way for me to explain it is this: therapy. Julie vows to make the world a better place by offering advise and by believing that honest communication can solve many of the problems in our modern society. The last couple of shows focused on pornography in marriage as told by people directly affected by it. It's brutal, honest, important, and similar to the other episodes I've heard.

I should say that the views are very LDS-centered. She and I share the same religion and those of us who are members of this particular church can relate to much of the topics and advice. But, don't let this hold you back if you're not part of this group. It's more about finding help, finding comfort, finding peace, than pushing any individual religion.

I would consider this a "self-help" podcast. I don't subscribe to many of those. I'm going to stick with this one. I find it admirable that people are still willing to put themselves out there, create content when they don't really have to--all in an effort to help others. If you feel this is something you'd enjoy, give it a shot--you can access the podcast information by clicking: HERE. Like me, you may just end up being a fan.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

I Mean...Who Doesn't Love Model Trains?

Another day, another basement treasure. This time, I knew what was in this particular crate.

My dad's trains.

Of course, not everything he once owned were in the box. I remember a huge (it was huge to me...) custom-built wooden display complete with tunnels and buildings. It consisted of two equal sections, at least six feet by four feet each. It sat in our basement, never used, because the man who owned the display died.

I still wonder what happened to that thing. There are times when I think it would be cool to have it, but you'd have to dedicate an entire room just for the display and the trains for which it was built.

But, there is one crate that contains the model trains that my dad loved, one crate that stayed in my parent's basement until my mom passed away and we moved the crate to our basement where it's resided for the past twelve years.

Like the display, I always thought it would be fun to one day set up the train set, see if it still works. It would be a way of honoring my dad, enjoying the things he enjoyed. The set is old and if it works after all these decades would be a miracle. Then again, it most likely worked when it was boxed and put away, so why not now?

There's another option for the old set and the cars. I can sell them or donate them to a thrift store to bring joy to someone else--maybe even for generations to come. Now that the basement is getting de-cluttered, there's room for me to unpack the crate, set up a portion of the track and see if we can get the thing to work. I think my dad would approve.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

An Open Letter To Vicki...And Everyone Else Who Supports Us...Thank You!

This afternoon I sat at my desk, trying to slog through the digital paperwork that makes up my "day job." Sometimes it's a gentle breeze--sometimes the gale winds blow. Today was more the latter than the former. On a break I checked out Facebook and came across an open (love) letter to which I was included.

And it made my day.

The author of the post, Vicki, a friend I met through the writing community. She wanted to express some of the observations and feelings she's experienced since entering the strange, confusing, wonderful, dark, heavenly, and frustrating world of a writer.

I thought it only appropriate, I return the favor.

I don't know any writer that doesn't have someone--a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a best friend--to fall back on, to use as a rock when the storm clouds build and the doubts attack. 

The supporters are the silent heroes in the creative process. It's not their names on the front cover (even though many of their names appear many times in the dedications...). At signings no one wants their signatures, or discuss plot points with them, but without them, the books--the art that brings joy to so many--would not exist.

You're there, a pillar of strength, of reason, when we're weak, unreasonable. You're rational when we're anything but. You're the ones who believe in us when we're about to quit and vow to never write another page, another paragraph, sentence, or even word. You've seen us at our worst and at our best, and yet you continue to love us, to support us, to share in that dream that is to bring these stories to life.

The writer's world you described is so accurate, so spot-on, it brought all the feelings to the surface. For those of us who have "day jobs" you reminded us that this journey is not a singular one. No writer is an island. I need to remember that--remember my choices affect others, the readers, the publishers, editors, agents, and the loved ones who want nothing more than to see me succeed, to see my dreams become realities.

As you've found out, loving a writer is so much more than watching thoughts turn into actions that turn into books. It's an experience that's hard to explain, though you did a wonderful job doing just that.

Hopefully, our paths will again cross, and in those hugs and smiles, an unspoken communication is conveyed, a language of thanks for the support you give not only Quincy, but all of us. Thank you for your incredible words. It means the world to us.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Not All Cameras Are The Same...At Least, To Me

In one of my boxes of stuff we're currently going through, I found a plastic bag containing digital cameras and digital camera accessories. 

It was like a mini-time capsule.

My mini-time capsule.

Each of the cameras was purchased at a thrift store. With the ever improving smartphone cameras out there, people were ditching their old point-and-shoot digital cameras. And many of those thrift store camera were high-end ones capable to taking amazing pictures and wonderful videos. When I bought these cameras I had a camera with a phone, but it wasn't as good as these digital cameras.

That changed a few years ago. I picked up an iPhone SE. At the time, it was one of the best phone cameras out there. Since then, cameras have improved a hundred fold. I remember fiddling with the cameras, and when I saw them again in the bag, I thought how cool it would be to see if those cameras could work again.

Then I thought...why?

Even though the cameras are still amazing, I can do more with my phone than those cameras could ever hope to do. It's not even close. 

Another item I found downstairs was a box that once held my non-digital SLR Olympus OM-10 camera. It's hard for me to explain just how important that camera was for me. It wasn't Olympus's top camera, but it was a good one, and I was able to take pictures like a pro.

I saw an Olympus OM-10 camera at the thrift store a few months ago. I think it cost ten bucks. I've rarely seen an item cost so little, but to me, was so valuable. 

I'm giving the cameras in the bag back to the thrift store. The OM-10 I'll probably keep forever. I may never take another picture with it, and even if I do, I might not be able to get the film developed, but then that particular camera is special. At least, it is to me.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Finding...A Really Old Book

I used to commute to work four times a week. Now I commute to a different room in my house. I used to take public transportation. Now I walk. The point is, write writing a daily blog, you draw from experiences near and far. Before they moved me home, I had the opportunity to talk to different people, take walks, see things.

Now that I'm home, some of my "inspiration" is gone.

But then we decided to clean out the basement, and "boom!" I've got a ton of things that interest me, and because they interest me, I find myself blogging about them. The latest item is a book, a really old book, a book I've known about, but never really looked at...

Until now.

We have a copy of the White House Cook Book. It's beat up, but I've seen worse. My mom's not around to ask about it. She kept it--don't know if she ever made any meals from the recipes found inside. The first picture in the book is of Ida Saxton McKinley. I looked for a publication date and didn't readily see it so I'm assuming one can date the book based on that picture.

Of course, the first thing you do when you come across something really old--you check its worth on ebay. It's hard to tell if its worth anything because of the condition. Our looks okay, on the outside, and I'm sure most--if not all--the pages are there, but it needs help. 

On ebay there were several copies for sale, but very few that had the same cover. Checking out its worth on Ebay doesn't necessarily mean we're going to part with it. More than likely--if we have the room--we'll find a place for it and one day (hopefully, a long time in the future...) one of our kids or even grandkids will come across the book.

Will they wonder why we kept it? Will they wonder if we ever used any recipes from it? And perhaps the most important question, will they immediately go to ebay (or whatever place one will access that far out into the future...) and see how much it's worth?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Return Of Three-Hour Church...At Least, This One Time

The e-mail asked whether or not we wanted to meet before church, or after. In reality, it didn't matter. What it meant was my Sunday worship would last a total of three hours.

I know I'm not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to religions that are not my own. I have no idea if three hours of worship on a Sunday is a little or a lot. I do know that up until last year, the average time for Sunday services in my religion was three hours. Three hours = three meetings.

In January, the three hours changed to two.

And there was much rejoicing.

I'm old enough to know that thinking two hours of worship is much better than three is all an illusion. It's a mind trick. We think that we'll never reach a point where two hours is too long, that it should be cut down even more until we're only meeting for sixty minutes, or even thirty. But, because we're humans, in time some will wish we only met for an hour or less.

How long is too long? I'll bet that question has existed as long as people have been required to do stuff that takes time. It's only natural. We complain about how hard we have it, no matter where or when we live. I'll bet hundreds of years ago parents told their kids that the kids "nowadays" had it too soft because the younger generation only had to work in the fields twelve hours a day instead of eighteen like the parents did.

Then again, maybe not.

I've taken no formal surveys or quizzes but I'll bet most members of our congregation (including me...) like the change. In all honesty, three-hour church has technically not changed. We're supposed to have two hours of church in the building and the other hour we're to have church study at home, with the family.

Today, I was in the church building for three hours. Three hours = three meetings. It's something we did all the time. And we should still be doing now.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Utah (State) Man Was Dad...

Utah State University, located in Logan, Utah, is the home of the Utah State Aggies. My father, the first in my family to graduate from college, attended this fine institution of higher learning in the 1950s.

Next came my brother, who followed in my dad's large footsteps (he was a tall man...) and attended Utah State University in the 1980s. He graduated as well, but not as quickly as my dad who earned his four-year bachelor's degree in three years. Not an easy thing to do.

But my dad was an amazing man.

He graduated in Tool Engineering. It's my understanding this is no longer a degree offered at any university. Tool Engineering evolved into Mechanical Engineering--a tough field, lots of math.

Today I found a couple of my father's university yearbooks. I guess they did that back then. They had pictures of him and others in his program. The pictures are how I remember him, tall, little hair. Of course, no kids remember their dads when their dads were in their twenties, unless they had use of a time machine and could go back and see your father in his younger years.

Most kids have the opportunity to see their father age, to see him grow old, see his hair turn gray, hear him tell about what life was like when he was your age, to worry about him when he forgets things, to wonder if it's time to talk to him about him driving not so much. Kids get to see the circle of life through their fathers. It helps the kids better understand and appreciate what it means to be a father to their own children.

The pictures in the yearbooks reminded me of how I remember my dad. He died when I was eight years old, which means he passed away sixteen or so years after these pictures were taken. Though my dad wasn't around to teach me and council me and spoil my kids, his grandkids. Instead, I've come to glean his wisdom, his work ethic, the way he was--and would have been--a dad through his example. And a better example I personally don't know.

Today, the Utah State University men's basketball team secured a birth in the NCAA basketball tournament, more likely the only local team to do so. It reminded me of my college days. After I graduated from Davis High School (and yes, I sang that I would have fought for it...), I attended USU. I followed in my father's footsteps, walked the much bigger campus where he walked, lived in housing that existed long before either of us were Aggies. My dad stayed for three years; I stayed three months and never returned. Harry Taylor, Aggie alum, great dad.

Friday, March 15, 2019

I Don't Know...Maybe Someone Did Steal My Lug Nuts

The other day I walked passed my car and noticed something missing...two things, actually. The back passenger-side tire had three lug nuts holding the tire to the car.

There's supposed to be five.

It's an old car, over fifteen years old to be exact. Even though it's not supposed to happen, I suspect things fall off cars that are over fifteen years old frequently. 

But not lug nuts. They're only supposed to come off only when you take them off.

We've had some work done on the car tires recently. I thought maybe the guys (or gals...) at the tire place failed to put on all five lug nuts. It wasn't until I was at the auto parts store buying replacement lug nuts that a thought hit me.

Maybe someone stole them off my car.

Back when my wife and I were first married, I owned a 1976 VS Beetle. We lived in Salt Lake. It wasn't the worst part of town, but it wasn't the best, either. I woke up one morning and my car was not parked where I left it the night before. It was halfway down the block on the wrong side of the street. Turns out, someone broke into my bug and stole the back seat and the knobs off the original VW radio.

When I told people the story, they'd inevitably ask,"Why would someone steal the knobs off your radio?" I even asked myself the same question. Then I went about trying to replace those radio knobs and I became fully aware of why a person desperately wanting radio knobs for a classic 1976 VW Beetle would break into a stranger's (then again, maybe it was someone I knew...) car and steal the knobs off the radio. They were hard to replace. This was before Amazon or Ebay or the internet. There was no "one click to buy" option.

This was the thought I had while waiting for the parts guy to fetch my replacement parts. Turns out, not all lug nuts for a mid-2000s Pontiac are the same. Since I wasn't driving the car, I got two that turned out to not be the same as the others. 

Maybe someone needed replacement lug nuts so bad that they stole them off my car, so all of their lug nuts would match. I guess some people need everything to match. Not me--when one of the hubcaps flew off the car (when it was younger than fifteen years old...), I didn't mind. Eventually, the others came off, too. And my car has one door a different color than the other three. For me, having five lug nuts holding the tire to the car is what's most important.

Then again, I'm sure the tire guys/girls forgot to replace all five lug nuts when we got the tire serviced. Still, I like my alternate explanation. It's more fun.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

More Basement Treasures...One From Mom And One From Dad

Where we live, we're fortunate enough to have a lot of space. It's shrinking every year, of course, but when the pioneers settled the area in the mid 1800s, the one thing they didn't lack was space. Now, more than a century and a half later, the roads are wide. The homes are large. The space between towns (when you leave the metropolitan areas...) is immense. 

What has this got to do with finding hidden treasures in our basement?

A good question.

Growing up we lived in a huge house. My dad designed it and was in the middle of building it when he passed away from cancer. sucked. Because it was a huge house for a mother and three children, and because my parents grew up during The Great Depression, they saved things. They saved everything. I loved digging in old boxes, opening flies of papers, and looking through old photos. There was so much stuff there.

And we saved it because we had the room.

My house, which is right across the street from my childhood home, is not as big and we have almost double the people. We have one big room in which to store stuff. We haven't gone through that stuff in years--decades, even. Now, we're taking on the challenge of cleaning up. We hung on to the stuff all these years because we have the space, pure and simple. And in the west, we're used to having a lot of space.

Tonight I checked out a box that has yet to be assigned a spot. I found something from my mom and something from my dad. In my mom's wallet I found some real beauties--a Smith's Video Store rental card, and a KSL Blue Chip card. If you're not familiar with this item, it was Groupon before Groupon. KSL is a local TV and radio station. They sort of ruled the roost back in the day. They still might--I don't know because I don't really pay attention anymore. You could use the card for discounts at station advertisers. 

My dad's contribution to the box is more rare. I'm assuming it's from WWII. My dad was a tail gunner on a B-17 crew. Before there was a US Air Force, there was the Army Air Corp. The patch on the leather pouch says US Air Forces so I'm not sure where (or when...) my dad picked it up--it's wicked cool, though.

There's more stuff down there, but with each box, our stuff is dwindling. I guess with all that extra room, we have more space for more new things. Not sure my wife would agree...

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Kevin L. Nielsen's "Colonial Prime: Humanity"...A Book Review


Kevin's book, Colonial Prime: Hunanity and a book I wrote, came out within a few months of each other, if I remember correctly. They're both published by Immortal Works. They're both science fiction, and they both have a boy/young man as an integral part of the story. I know this book pretty well--I should, I edited the audiobook version...

Not once,

But twice.

That's yet another story.

I should say from the onset that I enjoyed the book very much. It's not long, I believe less than 50k. When the audiobook goes live, it'll be less than four hours long, and if you listen to it on double speed, it'll fly by.

But the short length isn't the best things about Colonial Prime, for me, there's a lot packed into its pages. It's like eating a snack that's really really good.

Colonial Prime is the name of a ship, one in a convoy on a decades-long journey across space to populate a new planet. They're leaving the troubles found on their home planet--political strife, wars, the bad side of humanity--behind. The problem is, because they're human, those failings don't stay behind on Earth, they're brought with them.

Captain Amara Corrin pilots the Colonial Prime. A single mother, her son Jaelyn accompanies her on the journey. Amara's not only has responsibility for her son, but for everyone else in the fleet. The trouble really begins after the ships have been out a year. They receive a transmission from Earth and then things really hit the fan. The middle and third acts center around what happens once that message in received and how it could doom the entire mission. Amara, Jaelyn, and others have a real (and literal...) fight on their hands.

This is the second Kevin L. Nielsen book I've read. Though completely different genres, I love Nielsen's writing style. It seems effortless, as if the words that make up the story were meant to go together. We know enough about the main characters to empathize with them without becoming bored by over-explanations or ramblings by the author. We care about the people in a short period of time. We can also relate to their situation, even though they're aboard a spaceship trying to save the human species and we're on Earth, trying to make our mortgage payments and understand fake news.

The book is labeled YA, but it's really for anyone. Younger readers who like science fiction will enjoy this. Though there are battles and death, Nielsen doesn't gore-it-up more than necessary. It's a book I recommend.

If you'd like to order the book yourself, click: HERE to access the Amazon page. And, once the double-edited audiobook version comes out, you can order that, too.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

So...I Didn't Get The Job

Last week I wrote a blog post explaining how I felt learning that a friend had passed away. In that post, I stated I had applied for a job--that's how I found out about my friend. The job was within the same company where I currently work--at no time was I without a job. So as to not leave anyone hanging, I did not get it.


I have applied for this particular job several times going back twenty years. When I first applied, interview, and was denied, hurt. I watched as others with less experience were hired and I was not. A million things go through your mind when that happens, at least, they do for me.

This time was different, though. Many times before I felt I had the job. I felt I did well enough in the interviews and I definitely had the experience. I also knew what they were looking for and, at least in my mind, I had everything they needed. This time around, I wasn't sure what they needed, even though I have years of experience--more than enough to cover whatever they're looking for.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

Now I take rejection better than I used to. I'm more mature than I once was and that helps me accept these things. When I found out who got the job, it made sense. The person had actually done the job for years before being re-assigned. I know how that feels--it's not fun. I was happy for the worker and even sent a congratulatory text--several, in fact--when I returned to work after hearing of the decision.

One thing I've tried to teach my children is that they have the choice when it comes to how they feel. I was bummed the day I heard the news, but the next morning, I felt a lot better. I knew I had done my best and a more qualified applicant got the job. I want my kids to know that they have the ability to decide how they're going to react to the good and bad things that will happen to them in this life. Life was never supposed to be easy, contrary to what politicians tell you. It's supposed to be hard at times. It's supposed to suck at times, and it's supposed to be wonderful at times. How we choose to view these events makes all the difference. 

No, I didn't get the job, but I'm okay with it. Sure, it would have been nice--I already knew where the raise in pay would be going. But since it's not meant to be, at least, this time around, I might as well look at all the good things.

Because there's so many of them out there.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Happy Birthday To Craig...A True Renaissance Man

It's strange how we meet people, how we get to know others, especially when we don't live in the same neighborhood or work together. Back when I began writing and attending conferences, a name kept coming up, and inevitably, people would say, "Yeah, you've got to meet Craig--he's amazing."

The more I heard about him, the more I wanted to meet him because the man was not one-dimensional--not that any of us are, but it's rare when you find a person who excels in so many different areas.

I first heard of Craig, the writer. That makes sense since I heard this from other writers at writing conventions. I've read several of his books--my favorite, Dead Girl. I definitely recommend it!

 I then heard about Craig, the musician. A lot of writers I know play instruments, but few are in rock bands that perform regularly. 

Then, I found out Craig was one of the main people involved in the Gangrene Film and Comedy Festival. So, he's also an event organizer. I'd heard of the Gangrene festivals over the years--they're held just up the road from me.

Craig works in advertising. My first degree was advertising/PR--another difficult thing to master. 

And finally, the man creates board games. He's got several brands out now and his company is always coming up with more. A few years ago, they opened up a game store in the basement of their building. My daughter worked there for a season to earn money for college.

Each one of these disciplines takes time, energy, creativity, and hard work. It's rarer still when someone can, not only do all these things, but do them all at an elevated level. Craig has and does.

Eventually we met at a writing conference. He and I attended the same high school and our siblings attended at the same time, though he and I didn't. Too bad--he'd have been a blast to hang out with. Over the years I've gotten to know Craig better. He's been nice enough to give me a ride home from Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX several times. He didn't have to, but he did. 

Today is Craig's birthday. I hope he had a good one.

Tomorrow, I could hear that the man was ditching it all and moving his family to Alaska to raise caribou. It wouldn't surprise me (okay, maybe it would a little...). But I know if he decided to do that, he'd be great at that, too.

Happy birthday, Craig--I'm honored to call you my friend.