Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Ugh! It's that time again.

Every career, no matter how fun or cool it is, has it's crappy jobs you have to do. About this time every year I have one that I absolutely despise! We have a contract with the local institution of higher learning to air their sports events and part of that contract includes my services every year editing the video presentation for their hall of fame and senior banquet. It includes hours and hours of work putting these segments together. I hate it. I begin in just a few minutes so I'd better get ready.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Riding and Rude People

My alarm didn't go off when I thought it would. I forgot to set it for 6:30am. I woke up abruptly at 7:00 thinking that I might be too tired or to late to ride my bike into work. But for the last week I've been so pumped to do it that I gathered up all my stuff, put on my shorts, got my son up so he'd get ready to go to school, and started out. It was great! I'm not in the best shape but I made good time, doing the whole eight and a half miles in about forty minutes. When I got to the railroad tracks, which meant I was getting close, I was amazed that it had only been half an hour. The traffic got a little dicey on the two-lane county road, 56th West, because the shoulder is slim and unpaved. But other than that, my little jaunt was fantastic. I can't wait to do it again.

I forgot to mention this the other day, when my family was in town: On the way to the get-together, we stopped at the grocery store to get some bread for the sandwiches that were being served. I went in on my own while my family waited in the van, got a couple of loaves, and stood in the shortest line I could find. I was dressed in a suit and tie (really just some $20 dockers and a suit jacket someone had given me--I can't afford a suit...are you kidding me?). Then I noticed a rough, unkempt man coming out of one of the isles, his arms loaded with soda and other groceries, headed toward me. He cut in front of me saying, "Get out of my way, you son of a bitch!" I'm my father's son so this pissed me off. I approaced him and glared at him but he just slammed his stuff on the counter and avoided my look. I was so mad! When he got up to the cashier, she seemed to know him and he became very meek. He needed help counting the money for what he was buying. He was very nice to her, accepting her kindness rather humbly. But every time he looked at me the scowl crept back over his face--almost baring his teeth. I don't know what his problem with me was. I must have reminded him of someone. Whatever it was, seeing how childlike he was at the counter calmed my anger. I only wanted to club him about half as much as before.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

The Great Stinky Lake

We had a lot of family at our house today. My sister and her three daughters came up from Arizona; my parents and another sister came down from Idaho; and my brother and his wife and their daughter came over from across town. The Arizonites (Arizonians? Arizonaphites?) wanted to go see (dun dun DUNNNN) THE GREAT SALT LAKE, to which my kids replied: "Ewww. It stinks over there." But out-of-staters will never understand why we locals never go there until they try it themselves, so we took them. The first thing out of my niece's mouth was, you guessed it: "This stinks!" But it was fun anyway. It's too cold for the billions of bugs to be out so that was a plus. The thing is pretty spectacular, like an ocean without waves. But be warned: It does stink. When there's a wind coming off it we can smell it in our yard, a putrid dead fish smell. My nieces wanted to get in it to see if they can float as it is rumored. It's true enough. The high salt content means you can float in it without a life preserver, but the thing is so filthy I'm not sure why you'd want to. Besides, it was only about 40 degrees. She'd freeze her little tushy off.

We saw a guy launching a kayak and went and talked to him about it. Once you get out there a ways, the smell goes away, apparently. All of a sudden I have a desire to buy a kayack and lose myself in the lake. That would be a lot of fun, don't you think?

Friday, March 26, 2004

Guilty Pleasure

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to buy a bike and ride to work. The weather's been wonderful lately and every warm and sunny morning has made me want to do it that much more. So yesterday we went on what turning out to be an annual pilgrimage to the store to buy the things we want and need and have been putting off until our tax refund comes in. The problem is, anytime we buy anything we feel terribly guilty about it. It took us a long time to decide on what we wanted . . . except for the kids. They wanted everything. We got them some new clothes that they picked out themselves. We both cringed at their choices, but they have to wear it, not us, right? I got my bike. When we got home, the prospect of riding to work this morning, losing my gut, being able to sleep at night, just feeling better all around, and not spending as much money on gas drove all the guilt away. I was so excited about it I could hardly sleep. I gathered the stuff together that I thought I'd need: A small hand pump and spare tube, tire pressure gauge, water bottle, tools, and my new helmet. So this morning, I got up at 6:30 ready to seize the day, but the day was slippery and wet. It rained all night and it's still raining and windy. This sucks. I'm too much of a wimp to ride eight miles in this. Here's hoping better weather is here Monday.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


My five-year-old decided not to leave after all, a decision he actually made on Sunday afternoon. He didn't say why, he just came to me and said, "I've decided not to leave." So you can imagine how relieved we all are, though the prospect of only having to provide for three children was starting to grow on us a little. But we're glad to have him back (even though he never really left.) My eight-year-old got angry the same day and threatened to leave as well, but after the episode with his brother, it just didn't have much impact on us. We really are ogres, you know. I mean, imagine making a kid do the dishes or clean their room. We ought to be locked up. Such terrible abuse should never be allowed to go on as long as this has.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Keep in Touch

My 5-year-old is moving out. He had an argument with his mother and has decided he'd rather not live here anymore. So he's been packing his stuff all day. He's filled up several shopping bags with clothes and toys and food (a package of dry spaghetti, a piece of fried chicken, and a slice of cheese). I asked him where he's going to live and he told me he's going to sleep on the lawn at the church because it's near his school and he won't have to walk very far. The school is three or four blocks away from our house. Fortunately, he's not leaving until tomorrow after school, so we'll be able to spend some time with him before he's gone. I'll sure miss him.

Friday, March 19, 2004

March Insaneness

As you probably know, I don't follow sports much. I don't gamble either. But every year I've been watching people win money with the March Madness brackets and it's only a dollar so I thought I'd give it a shot. Since I don't know a thing about any of the teams, I went online to see what someone else would do. I found a site that has the brackets as determined by a video game. That is, they plugged in all the current teams that are in the playoffs and simulated the whole tournament. So I went with it. The game will probably do as well as I could. Everyone thinks I'm nuts because there are a lot of upsets predicted, like Utah going to the final four, and Memphis taking the whole enchilada. But so far, I'm 11 and 5. Who knows? I could get pretty close.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Making the Grade

Ok, this is going to sound a lot like complaining, so let me preface it by saying that I know I am blessed. I have more than most people on Earth, I realize that. And I owe everything to God.

Still . . . It's hard when you're minding your own business, listening to the local public radio station and you hear that you are well under the poverty line for your state. And I can't even boast myself as a member of an exclusive club. There are over 600,000 of us under the poverty line in the state of Utah. A specific number was quoted, but I'd rather not repeat it. Suffice to say that it means that it's a struggle obtaining the daily necessities of life. I knew we were close to the line--I just didn't realize we were so far below it. It seems relative, though, kind of like Einstein's assertion that the perception of time is different for everyone. We do struggle, but we live such a modest life--and we're so blessed to not have too many curves thrown our way--that we aren't suffering as you'd expect an impoverished family would be. In fact, we find ourselves in better shape than many of our neighbors.

I don't know why I'm wrestling with this so much. I guess I thought a college degree would net me a better lifestyle, a higher wage. The trade off is, as I've stated before, that I work with wonderful people and the job is interesting and fun most of the time.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

What should I do?

I'm afraid this post is going to be rather meandering. How's that so different from any other post here? Point taken. But I'm concerned about something and so I figure I'll just hammer it out here until I find a solution. I feel like I'm going nowhere. Today I did nothing. Now I know that I work a lot of hours and I don't get many chances to just relax but whenever I do I feel like I'm squandering the time God's given me to make something of my life. Even if that's just doing service for my neighbors or here around the house. When I say I did nothing today, I mean it. The only thing I have to show for today is a playoff spot for the Baltimore Ravens on Madden 2003 for the PC. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that means a whole lot in the game of life. There are things I'd like to do but when a day off comes my way, I can't think of what they are. I should say that I did practice the guitar today. I do that every day and I'm seeing a lot of progress which makes me feel pretty good until I realize that the guitar will never be more than a hobby. I don't plan on taking it any further than that. It seems like those are the things that I'm really motivated to pursue: the things that aren't accompanied by the pressure to have to succeed at them. There are things that do have that pressure attached and those are the things that I avoid. They include writing every day, fixing up the house, getting my resume into shape, finishing the drawing that is nearly a year and a half overdue, just to name a few. How do I get motivated? Would getting organized and setting goals do it? If so, how do I do that? I'm not even Sisyphus--I don't even push the stone up the hill.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

No Homework? Are you sure?

I've been struggling with my oldest boy. He's ahead of his class in just about everything; his teachers rave about how well he does, and yet, he struggles with his homework. It's because it's boring. It's stuff he knows and it's the same piddly stuff over and over. But I'd like him to learn that successful people do what they don't want to do. If left alone to do his work, he just sits there, so we have to sit next to him and coax him on like personal trainers. This is all because he doesn't get the work done at school. And then soon after we started doing this, he stopped having homework. He got it done at school, he said. But the other night we were looking for his glasses and we found stacks of assignments balled up under his bed. So my wife asked the teacher to send home a note every day with his assignments written on it. If there's no note we know he's hiding something again. Two nights ago, I stayed up with him until 11:30 pm. I must be pretty gullible, though. Several times he had me believing he was on his last page. When we got up the next morning my wife pointed out there was still more to do.

We've developed a pretty good incentive program, however. As soon as his homework is done I read The Narnia Chronicles to him and his brother. I love those books and I like that I'm able to experience them again through my kids. It's a nice bonding experience. So it's working out.

Last night my five-year-old and I were getting situated to begin reading and we bumped heads. It was a light bump but he's pretty dramatic about such things and grabbed his head in pain. I asked if he was ok. He said he was and then he said, "It's a good thing I wasn't knocked out or I would have missed the story!" Yes, that is very fortunate.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Friday Five Button

I don't do this every week but I like these questions so here goes:

What was . . .

1. ...your first grade teacher's name?

Miss Park. I thought I was in love with her.

2. ...your favorite Saturday morning cartoon?

Just one? I liked The Jackson Five, Star Trek, Fat Albert, etc. etc.

3. ...the name of your very first best friend?

David C. We met in second grade and were friends until our sophomore year when he decided I was too much of a geek to hang around with.

4. ...your favorite breakfast cereal?

Anything that came with a cool prize.

5. ...your favorite thing to do after school?

Watch TV. I watched TV at least six hours a day.

This Just In

My wife just called me. She told me that my five-year-old was taking a long time to get ready for school this morning. He was spending a lot of time in the bathroom. Went she went in to check on him, she found him at the mirror with my razor shaving his face. My first concern was for his safety, of course--I've got to put those somewhere else--but that's about the funniest thing I've heard in long time. The plastic guard was still on the razor. That makes me feel better.

Insert Title Here

Princess Rufflebutt seems to be doing a lot better now. It's so fun to watch her try to negotiate the distance between herself and something she wants. She doesn't quite have crawling pegged yet. She moves one leg forward and the other other do meet that one, like a dog limping. Then she'll sit high up on all fours and rock back and forth, all the while grinning her devastating smile and saying, "Dadadadadad" at the top of her voice.

It's hard to motivate myself to do much right now. I'm exhausted from no sleep. I jinxed my slumber by exulting in one night's great sleep in that post the other day. I need to learn to keep my mouth shut.

A couple of days ago we shot some segments on Tai Chi Chuan for the educational program I'm helping to produce. The instructor we interviewed was so cute. She is 4' 11" with a very slight build and unassuming personality, but I got the feeling she could handle herself if she needed to. She started practicing Tai Chi in 1963 or something like that. It was my first time at running the whole show, producing and directing, but I knew what I wanted and I know a bit about Tai Chi, so I, in spite of my shy nature, did a pretty good job. She was full of great information but she's so soft spoken that we'll have to be pretty creative to spice it up a little for the kids.

Some interesting thing I learned:
Tai Chi is the mother of all the Chinese martial arts. She claims it is the deadliest.

If people think it's not as effective an exercise as, say, aerobics, because it doesn't get your heart rate up, they're mistaken. She says it gets the heart rate going as much as aerobics while relaxing you instead of making you feel drained or winded.

There are at least 108 forms in traditional Tai Chi but that has been shortened considerably because of the West's short attention span.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Red Hot Chili Peppers

No, not the group. I can't talk about work here, but it has occurred to me that I can share some of the useless information I aquire while researching for the educational program I write for. The way I find topics to write about is I get on the internet and put something in the search engine like "vegetables" or "health topics" and then I look for key words that I might be able to run with. Today I was researching an idea I had to write about vegetables states have adopted as their symbols. For instance: The Utah state vegetable is the Spanish sweet onion, and Ohio's state beverage is tomato juice. Interesting, eh? When I came across the pepper as New Mexico's, it gave me an idea to write about peppers. Being an English major, I, of course, took a lot of English classes. One of my favorites was called "Food in Literature." We read books like Off Side (P.I. Pepe Carvalho is also an amateur chef) and Death in Venice (we had to write a paper on what the main character would eat), stories like "Babette's Feast," and watched films like "Tampopo" (Japanese for Dandelion), which was all about the quest--Indiana Jones style--for the perfect noodle (ramen). As I was doing this research today, I remembered something the professor had said about peppers: That their potency was measured in so-called "scoville units." They dilute a pepper with water until it gives no burning sensation. The amount of water needed is what determines how hot it is. The bell pepper is the base measurement, coming in at zero scoville units. So here are the contenders and how hot they are in scoville units:

0-100....................Bell and Sweet Peppers
500-1000..............New Mexican Peppers
1000-2500............Ancho, Pasilla and Cascabel Peppers
2500-5000............Jalapeno and Mirasol Peppers
15,000-30, Arbol Peppers
30,000-50,000......Cayenne and Tabasco Peppers
50,000-100,000....Chiltepin Peppers
100,000-350,000..Scotch Bonnet and Thai Peppers
200,000-577,000..Habanero Peppers

But that's not all. The chemical in peppers that makes them hot is called capsaicin. It is so hot that lab workers have to wear full protective suits including masks when working with pure capsaicin. One lab worker accidentally inhaled some. He said it won't kill you, but it makes you wish you were dead. It comes in at 16 million scoville units.


I wish could blog more about work than I do. There's a lot going on. A lot of people might say I've been "dumped on." But I look at it as a great opportunity. I'm in charge of some productions that involve some influential people in this state. But there's a lot of the down side of working at a tv station that I could write about as well. Unfortunately, I can't say too much. I'm not sure my employers would approve and I need this job. So I'll continue to say little about it.

I didn't get as much sleep last night as I did the night before. Rufflebutt is sick and she let us know it all through the night. Poor little girl. Yesterday was payday, so my wife came to where I work to get her check and she had Rufflebutt and my 3 yr old with her. The princess tried to smile but she looked so tired and sick. I felt bad for her.

I have a lot of work to do so I'll sign off.

Monday, March 01, 2004


This is the first time in years I can actually say I got a great night's sleep! I was exhausted, as usual, last night, but instead of staying up late anyway, the baby and I went to bed at 9pm. Either she slept all through the night, or I was just dead to the world, but I slept steady until about 5:30 when she woke up with a temperature. Mrs. C. got her some Tylenol and I held her for awhile. When I'm awakened like that, I don't go back to sleep easily. I'll usually turn on my portable radio to a talk station because that will often do the trick. There's nothing like useless chatter to knock a guy out cold. But this morning nothing would work. I actually listened to the talk show. I guess I just couldn't believe I'd gotten enough sleep--I never get enough--but apparently I had. So I listened to talk about Howard Stern and The Passion for an hour and a half. Those were the only two topics they talked about the whole time. I finally couldn't listen anymore and got out of bed laughing my head off when a caller asked, "Why didn't Mel Gibson shoot the movie in English instead of French? It's so confusing that way. I can't keep up with it."

I actually, really, truly, feel good this morning. Can you believe it? A lot of it has to be the sleep, but I must say, laughter in the morning is the right way to start the day.