Friday, May 31, 2019

I've Discovered Something...No One Thinks Our Kids/Pets Are As Cute/Special As We Do

It used to be, back in the day, we would carry pictures of our kids/pets/boat in our wallets, and when we ran into friends we hadn't seen in a while, we'd break out the pictures to show them glimpses of your life. They'd say, "Wow--they've grown so much!" or "What kind of dog is that, a poodle mix?" or "So, you bought the 30-footer. That must be a pain to pull."

You'd catch up, then go your separate ways, until the next time you meet up and you hopefully have updated pictures of kids/pets/jet skis you bought after selling the boat. 

My, how things have changed. 

Now, due to advances in technology, not only can you post pictures and videos of your kids/pets/boats/cars/selfies and everything else 24/7, but you can check out millions of other people's posts of their kids/pets/boats/cars/selfies and everything else they post. And even though, to the ones posting, the things they're sharing with the world are the cutest things imaginable, others may find them cute as well, they'll never find them as cute as you do. 

It's just the way things are.

We just got a new kitty, and he has a name, SamDean Winchester. We've been taking care of him since Monday and I can personally say, this thing is one of the cutest things on the planet. But to everyone else--those not emotionally attached to the previously-mentioned kitty--it just doesn't mean as much. There's no way it can. All those baby pictures and pet pictures and vacation pictures people post, they definitely mean the world to them, but just not the same to us.

Of course, this won't stop us from posting all this stuff. I like to think of social media as keeping a digital journal, except the days of having your journal be "private property" are all but gone. It's good to post things and be happy/proud of those memories. Just don't get upset when we don't feel the same way as you. 

Naturally, the only exception of my theory is SamDean Winchester. There's no way to argue his awesome cuteness.

*Video clip from Napoleon Dynamite used without permission

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Be Ye Warned...Groups Of Marauding Teenagers Are Roaming The Streets!

In hindsight, I should have known. The signs were there--I just ignored them. The days are longer, the temperatures are rising, and the pollen is again trying to kill me. It wasn't until I drove to the local gas station/fast food place at noon to pick up jalapeƱo corn dogs/egg rolls for lunch that I realized the danger I was in.

School's out.

Which means...

Teenagers are ON THE LOOSE!

The gather in packs, gangs of youth fueled on newly-acquired freedom and unspent lunch money. Their eyes are hazy, as if they can't believe they've survived another school year. 

Beware these gangs, people! They cross the street slowly. They laugh at things that are marginally funny at best. And the worst part, they fail to realize that in three short months, they will be herded--yes, literally herded--back to the school from which they so recently escaped, breathing in the same incarcerated air, sitting in the same lumbar-lacking chairs.

Mostly, I keep my distance--no sense angering the pack. To quote Old Man Potter, "Mobs can get pretty ugly, you know?" There's something about that first day out that these groups of youth wonder about, as if seeing the world for the first time. They walk down streets they usually ignore. They chat/text simultaneously. It's how they communicate with other gangs of marauding teenagers in different sectors...ah, I mean, parts of town. They're into technology, these kids.

I'm not telling you to remain in your homes behind locked doors for the next three months, but I'm not not saying it, either. If you need to go out, be careful. Remember, if we work together, we can get through this. Be brave, my friends! Be brave.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

We Sure Are A Gullible Lot...Aren't We?

I knew it was bogus, when I saw the picture and caption. I mean, if Sam Elliott had actually passed away, I would have seen it on social media or a news website. He's not the biggest star out there, but it would have been a big story. I doubt there are many who don't like the actor. I know I do.

Of course, if Sam had passed away, I might have missed it so I felt I had to click on the picture.

Classic clickbait.

I can't remember where the link took me, but instantly I knew the actor, Mr. Elliott, had not died, at least not today. And since the link didn't send me to a story about the actor's demise, I turned my attention to the IMBd website. They are very good at updating information about celebrities and those in the movie making business.

Turns out, Sam is alive and well and living in Malibu.

I knew I was being conned, so why did I do it? Why did I click on the picture? I'll bet they picked this particular actor because if it had been a picture of Tom Hanks or Leonardo DiCaprio, Scarlett Johansson or Robert Downey, Jr., most people wouldn't click--they wouldn't take the bait. They'd know it was a scam, an attempt to get clicks.

Then again, I knew that too, and I clicked.

Our lives are so intertwined with technology. Tomorrow I'll get up and log on to my work computer. I'll spend the next ten hours sitting in front of two screens. On breaks I'll check social media from time to time, and even answer a couple of I/Ms. Because we're so tied to screens, computers, and the internet, people trying to manipulate us, know our weaknesses, our curiosities, the things we like. Just as there's opposition in all things, I suppose clickbait is here to stay.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Blue Skies Of Dusk...

Last night, as the day died, I looked to the west and saw blue skies where reds, oranges, pinks and purples usually reside. 

I wonder if much has been written about that. 

We've heard of red skies at night, a warning to those upon the seas. 

But, if the heavens are a cooled by blue clouds, should we worry? Should we seek shelter or plan for relief from the storms and tempests?

Personally, I have no idea.

But it makes for a beautiful scene across a western sky. 

And a sweet goodnight to a day of remembrance. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Meet..."He Who Has Yet To Be Named"

Two weeks and two days ago we said goodbye to a family pet. She was loved and she's definitely missed. Since she was the first pet our children lost, we knew it would be traumatic...and it was--for all of us. Since we have an outdoor cat that basically keeps the property clear of mice and other unwanted things, we knew we wanted to have an indoor cat for companionship.

We knew getting another cat would help ease the pain.

Today is the day we found a new family member.

And he's so cute, it hurts.

There are many reasons not to bring home a kitten, especially in our house. Our other cat has not warmed up to any cat it's ever met. And our big dog has not been raised around cats. We're going to have to work on that and pray it works out.

But the biggest concern I had was the kitten's size. All kittens are small, but this one is most likely at an age where it normally would still be with his mother. Except there is no mother. This kitten and its sibling were abandoned. He's eating solid food and we're giving him formula, but normally, it would have been better to wait a little bit before we adopted him. This time, that wasn't an option.

The last indoor cat we had was basically a prisoner in our bedroom, due to cats and dogs and other things. We're hoping this little guy can roam the entire house. Time will tell, of course. And this cat is not my wife's, nor is he mine. It's my daughter's. We're hoping she can do most of the work of raising him herself.

I told my children, as we drove home with a new kitten in the car, that when their kids want to look at an animal to buy or adopt, they'd better be prepared to be okay with bringing him or her home with them. I knew, the moment we made the call and told them we were coming, that we'd be getting a new cat. Just a little fatherly advice to a couple of my kids.

Yes, we have a newbie in the house. We'll have challenges, but hopefully the victories will outnumber the defeats. Now, if my daughter can just think of a good name for the little guy...

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Memorial Day 2019 Edition...More Places To Visit

It dawned on me as we drove away from our town's cemetery this afternoon, that the older I get, the more places I can visit each Memorial Day. Today, we visited my parents's gravesite. But it wasn't the only gravesite we needed to visit today.

There's another one, a new one.

Almost every Memorial Day since 1974 I've gone to a certain spot in the Farmington City Cemetery, a little south and west of center. In 2008 the family gathered not just for the fallen patriarch, but our matriarch as well. 

But because the only constant is change, our family now has a new destination to visit at our local cemetery, more south and more west, almost to the very corner of the cemetery itself. Last year, we had no reason to venture so far south and west. This year...well, it's a different story.

I don't know if it's weird, but I love seeing our cemetery on Memorial Day. There's beautiful flowers on most graves. There's pin wheels and balloons, American flags and stuffed animals. Those are the temporary things. The more permanent ones, the headstones and monuments, they'll eventually be gone, too. And, if things work out as planned, one day my wife and I will be part of the ecosystem as well, a little south and west of center.

Memorial Day at our cemetery is beautiful, for all the right reasons.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Another Photo Album...Is In The Digital Books

Tomorrow I begin a new photo album in Facebook to continue my Pic Of The Day posts. This next album will be Number 16.

 I can't believe two-hundred days have passed so quickly. 

I began this album back in November of last year. It wasn't the most eventful seven months, but there were moments. We came to experience a new family member as the puppy grew up and got used to us. And we said goodbye to another family member. One was definitely harder on us than the other.

There were good times, too. I attended an amazing college football game, one of the best games I've ever seen. Of course, the team I root for overcame a huge deficit and came out victorious. If I rooted for the boys in blue, I would think the game not that great.

We celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. I survived a writing retreat (literally...) and I helped out and plan part of a comic convention. The former sent me to the E.R., the latter proved to be a huge success.

It takes less than a minute to log on to the Facebook photo album and scan the two-hundred photos. In a blink you can see a daily moment, a memory of each day. Some photos garner more attention than others--I'm particularly happy about the tall grass in the garbage can shot--and some are more personal. Some are so random I just needed something for that particular day, and others I'll want to remember for the rest of my life. 

So, bring on Album #16! I have no idea what's going to happen in the next two-hundred days, but I plan on snapping at least one picture for each of those two-hundred days and sharing it with the world. Not knowing what's going to happen is part of the fun, too.

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Different Kind Of Memorial...

It was the kids idea, at least, I think it was. It's been two weeks today since we lost one of our pets. After we covered up the grave, we gathered rocks and placed them on top. We then thought it would be a nice tribute to paint the rocks and replace them at the gravesite. 

Last week we cleared off the counter, brought in and washed the rocks, assembled paints and brushes, and got to work. My wife, youngest son, daughter and myself participated in our memorial activity. We had no rules--everyone could do what they wanted and put on the rocks what they wanted to say as a tribute. 

My daughter went with a colorful design on a black background. It's a sweet one.

My son used a "G" instead of the whole name. It's sweet as well.

My wife called the cat Princess Gracie, because that's exactly what she was, so that's what she painted on her rock. She also added patches of tan and black, because Gracie was white, tan, and black...a beautiful color combination.

I got to my rock a little late. In fact, it's not finished. And truth be told, none of the rocks are completely finished. We need to locate our shellac to protect the paint. If we had put these out after we painted them last week, the rain we've had almost every day would have removed our heartfelt messages.

There's no way a few rocks covered with paint and words can replace the loss we feel when we look around the house and notice she's no longer with us. But, in a small way, it helps. And that's what a memorial should, when all's said and done.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Old Books About Music...My Friend's Favorite

I noticed the short stack of old books on the desk next to me at tonight's writing group. The top book caught my attention. 

The World's Best Music - Vocal

How cool is that?

Then I thought about it--these books were in the home of a friend who has two great loves: books and music. And she's incredibly talented in both. And because I'm curious, I picked up the vocal book to leaf through it. After all, I've been singing most of my life. There had to be at least one song I knew.

That's about how many songs I

The first couple of pages were missing so I didn't know when the book was published, then again, maybe books that old did not have the printing information on the first few pages. When I perused through the book, I noticed most of the copywriting dates were from 1904. That's twenty years before my father was born. Or, in other words, old.

The books work great as a decoration. I wondered if they are actually used for the purpose for which they were originally published--as voice lesson material. I suppose they could be, but if it were me, I'd photograph the pages then print them out to use them. The book is over a century old, after all.

After gently flipping through the pages, checking out the music and the pictures, I replaced the book with its siblings. The book's title made me wonder, is this a collection of the world's best vocal music? It may have been then, but maybe not so much now.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

You Can Hear The "I Told You So's" From Here...

For the past couple of weeks, I've been perusing the twenty-first version of the Classifieds. They're no longer listed in the newspaper; they're online. Locally, we had a website hosted by a TV and radio station. They were huge, as far as classifieds go. They might still be, but I find myself checking the Facebook Marketplace for deals. In the past month or so, I've bought several things--nothing big like cars or snowmobiles (I could buy them from the Marketplace if I wanted--they have so many things for sale...).

And because I peruse, I come across things I don't need or will ever buy, but that I find interesting. Case in point: 

For Sale: One AirPod.

Now, if someone gave me a pair of AirPods, I would not turn them down, but I don't plan on spending more than one-hundred dollar + price on a pair. I remember--as I'm sure many of you do--hearing all the comments from nay sayers when details of the AirPod's designs were released. Everyone was sure these little suckers would get lost almost immediately. I've never worn a pair so I can't testify just how good or bad they adhere to the ear. Many swore they worked just fine in their ears. They were either telling the truth, or were trying to convince themselves that spending that much money on a pair of earphones was worth it, and that they had not made a terrible mistake.

I came across a right-side AirPod for sale locally. It's not the first time I've seen posts just like this. Personally, I would take a left-side AirPod, but I haven't seen one for sale. And even at half the price, it's still a lot.

I don't know the exact sales of Apple's AirPods, or if they've exceeded their expectations or underperformed. But, I'm sure this particular post won't be the last one if its kind. You can almost hear the "I told you so's" from here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ever Seen/Heard Of "Duplex?" Nope...Me Neither

You know how it is. You've put in a long day, dinner's done and you've got a few hours to kill before it's time to call it a day. You could do something productive--go for a run/walk, read a book, even work on your novel/short story if that's your thing.

But you don't.

You search for something to watch. And if you're not a Golden State Warriors fan, or you're a Portland Trailblazers fan and you don't want your heart look at what movies are available. You come across one you've never heard of before.

We found Duplex.

And you think, that's's got A-List actors, actors we like watching in other projects they've done. So, you give it a shot. That's what happened to us when we were looking for a non-run/walk/reading/writing activity.

The film was released in 2003 by Miramax, which was still a big name at the time. Each of the headliners were coming off of successful films, Zoolander, Meet the Parents, and There's Something About Mary for Stiller (who, by the way, is three days younger than me...). The Wedding Singer, Never Been Kissed, and Charlie's Angels for Barrymore (who, by the way, is nine years, nine months, and seven days younger than me...). The movie had everything going for it, complete with direction from Danny DeVito.

For those of you who have seen the film, we share something few others do. It's like being in a secret society. So, when I say, "Have you seen Duplex?" And you stop, start a smile and nod. Yup, it's kind of like that. You'll understand when I say the movie had its moments and some of them were funny. But something was off. They performances were good, but something was

We watched it all--it's the kind of story you have to see how it ends. I must say the ending was good, kind of predictable, but good.

On blog posts past, I've recommended films, books, podcasts, plays, and websites. I'm not going to say you shouldn't watch Duplex, but if you're presented with a choice, you might want to watch the game. After all, some people find some sick pleasure in watching their team get taken to the woodshed yet again.

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.