Monday, December 13, 2010

What if this is as good as it gets?

What if this is as good as it gets?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Letter in a Bloggle

On the 14th of December, my wife and I share our 14th trip around the sun; our 14th wedding anniversary. 
That's a grand total of:
14 Years, or
730 weeks, or
5111 Days, or
122664 Hours, or
7,359,840 Minutes, or
441,590,400 Seconds.

14 things I love about you after 14 years of marriage


1. You are a great cuddler. Nothing says “I love you” like spooning through a cold winter night after being together for fourteen years. That never gets old.

2. You are a great mother. You actually want to be home with the kids. Rather than obsessing over a career of some sort, you have taken up driving our kids to charter school and making them lunches every day. You have found ways to volunteer in their classrooms and help them with projects. You make them secure about what is at home for them.

3. You are a great listener. You put up with my interruptions when I want to read you a story or tell you about something absolutely unimportant.  And you have a great laugh.  I want to hear you laugh more.

4. You are fun to hang out with. I work from home, yet I don’t get sick of seeing you around. You are fun to be with, listen to, and talk to.

5. You are a great baker. Home made breads, pies, cakes, muffins. If it rises, you have mastered it. But no, you will not convert me to your false religion of mush and cornbread for breakfast. Some baked goods are better alone, or with honey, or glaze, or icing. Mush doesn’t fall into any of those categories.

6. You are very patient. I am a real pain in the caboose. Yet you still haven’t killed me in my sleep. Don’t think I haven’t expected it on at least a fortnight.  I've thought to myself, "Well, I've really done it this time.  Surely I will meet my Maker, at my wife's hand tonight.  Farewell, Cruel World."  Then I wake up and we make up.  Wink-wink.

7. You make beautiful children.  They all got your big smile and love of cuddles.

8. You aren’t a nagger. You don’t make honey-do lists and chase me around with an irritating voice trying to get me to spend every waking moment doing odd jobs around the house.

9. You are pleasant. That seems like a funny thing to say. But there are so many people out there that aren’t, it sure makes it nice to be around someone who is.

10. You are supportive. Women like to ask, “How do you run your own business? I’d never let my husband do that.” Thanks for letting me prove that it can be done. Through the good and the bad.

11. You have integrity. I’d never believe it if someone said you stole something. Except someone else’s keys. Purely accidental of course.

12. You are kind. You look for ways to help people. Many a meal has been delivered by your hand to someone who is sick.

13. You are smart. You love to read. I am deeply jealous of the books that occupy your attention while laying in bed.

14. You aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty. This one stems way back. I’m grateful you aren’t afraid to pull a weed, or plant a garden. Now I’ve just gotta get you over your fear of gutting a game bird.

15. Bonus…One for next year.  You are a hotty! You look great in boots, jeans, and jackets, or most other outfits too. Score!

Here's to the next 14 years.  You are the love of my life, and my dearest friend.  Don't tell Cache!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Do you think unemployment insurance is a good thing for society?

Do you think unemployment insurance is a good thing for society?






Somewhere along the line a politician got the idea that we should have insurance for the unemployed. This does not come directly out of the employee’s paycheck. It’s another one of those taxes that costs an employer a percentage of what he pays everyone. That is money he doesn’t have available to pay the employee who works hard every day.

I’ve had a bad experience with unemployment problems. Being the owner of a small business, I have had to fire some employees and lay off others to keep the business afloat. One employee that I fired, cussed out a customer. I fired him on the spot. He applied for unemployment benefits and after an hour of “phone court” and many hours of paperwork, was denied.

The second guy I fired for not wanting to work. The judge decided I didn’t give him enough training to improve his work ethic. I didn’t realize an employer was responsible for work ethic. He was given unemployment benefits for several months.

I laid of a secretary who was making less than 10.00 per hour. She went on unemployment for almost a year as I heard about her spending that time living at home sewing wedding dresses and working for cash under the counter while making almost 70% of her previous wage (from unemployment benefits) while not working. She called me two weeks before her unemployment ran out to see if she could list me as a referral on her resume. I found it interesting that she didn’t look for work that entire time, even though that is a requirement to receive benefits. Interestingly enough she found work right after the unemployment ran out. That is where the system fails.

So many people would rather not be working. I’ve also had to fight about unemployment with an employee who quit and left the state. He lost the job where he moved and then Unemployment Insurance tried to come back on my company. Another employee had his drivers license revoked. He tried to get unemployment also.

Gotta love taxes. Just got a note from the “Department of workforce services.” They were just writing to let me know about the changes in Unemployment Insurance for 2011. The minimum tax rate doubles for next year. One more expense to keep companies from being able to hire more people.

So what is your take on unemployment? Does it help society or just discourage people from doing their best and working hard? Leave your comments below.

When Dogs Sleep

Have you ever smiled at a sleeping dog? Their feet twitch and nostrils flare as they slip into the realm of dreams. Perhaps dreams are the gateway to the eternities. They are a way to visit what was, and what is to come.


Puppies come into life with a powerful love and loyalty that is unequaled in most people. They become part of our families with perfect devotion. They are loyal to the point of laying down their lives for their loved ones. They have intelligence beyond our understanding and seem to sense our moods. In fact, it has been said that they possess all of our virtues with none of our vices. It behooves us to be worthy of their devotion.

As dogs speed through life from puppies to old age, they give us a glimpse of how quickly life passes, and how much we should enjoy it. Dogs don’t hold grudges very long. They’re forgiving. They wag their way through life, and smile through the good times and the bad.

I believe that when a dog takes his last breath on earth, he takes his first one in paradise. His mind gradually awakens as his senses come to life with perfection. The pains of mortal life slip away as he stands up, bows down, and contorts into a deep stretch, yawning with an extended curling tongue. His nostrils flare, experiencing new levels of perception in smell. The squint in his eyes departs as his pupils adjust to the brightness. His perfect silky coat warms from the summer breeze and rays of light. His tail wags like a puppy and his nose drops to the green grass. His feet glide over the ground in a powerful gallop as he explores the rolling hills and forests in his new home, where he waits to greet us with bounding hugs and kisses when we take our last breath on earth.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sniffing Glue

I started building models when I was ten. The first ones looked like they’d been hit by anti-aircraft guns. Parts of the sprue were left on, glue was applied too heavily, and I was too impatient to paint them properly. Then I played with them like toys which led to parts getting knocked off. They would usually end their existence flying into Mt. Everest, a.k.a. the brick wall in my back yard. Sometimes the plastic pilot even ejected to safety.


As I got older, my patience increased and I learned to enjoy the process of sitting at my workbench with tweezers and an airbrush to build some very detailed model airplanes. I started hanging them on nails over my closet. Working almost exclusively in the 1:48 scale when building aircraft was my medium. One inch on the model equaled 48 inches in real-life. I liked seeing how the different aircraft looked next to each other at the same scale.




In the middle of my room, hung with fishing line, a model of the B-1 swing-wing bomber flew under the ceiling light. I melted its left engines and hung a plume of cotton from wire out of the back of the aircraft. She was “hit” by a Russian Su-27 that was trailing behind her in the corner of my room.

Building models was calm and relaxing. On cold California winter nights I could sit and listen to the radio and paint details on missiles and dream of flying until early in the morning.

My mom would come up and make me open the window. Since I can’t smell, I couldn’t detect the paint and glue fumes in the room that were killing my brain cells. Maybe that’s why it was so relaxing.

Model building is a dying art. I hear mothers complaining about helping their kids make dioramas for school projects. The model aisle at Wal-mart is gone. They used to sell model paints, glues, kits, and supplies next to model rockets and rocket motors. Those are gone, possibly forever. I have to drive 40 minutes to go to a store that sells model kits now. I wonder what caused that shift in the market. Are fathers too busy to build with their children? Have video games overstimulated children to the point that they can’t sit and enjoy a long and detailed project?

It is twenty-five years since I built my first models. My next door neighbor Brent, had a father who built hundreds of model airplanes that covered his bedroom walls. That is probably what made me want to build my first one. My dad helped me paint the first jet I hung over the closet. It was the same color as the blue on my wall. Actually, it was painted with the leftover paint from that room.

I bought some models for my kids to build with me in the garage. The winters in Utah are colder, but even when it is snowing outside, the garage heater makes painting possible. Now it is my wife who makes me open a window.


My kids had a blast. Carrie built an F4 Corsair, Chris build a model of the WWII USS Enterprise with a deck of wildcat warplanes, and Coleman built a model of the P-51 Mustang. We listened to the Triology station on Pandora Internet radio and talked and put things together. I didn’t get much done on the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier I was building. Instead, I cleaned up the occasional paint spill and helped my younger son understand how to put his fuselage together.

We worked on the models all afternoon. When bedtime rolled around, they couldn’t believe it was 8:30 already. The day passed quickly. They left their projects on the workbench in the garage to dry. When I got up on Sunday morning, the boys projects were already in the kitchen. The first thing they did in the morning was bring them inside.

I flash back to memories with my parents from time to time. I remember sitting at the kitchen table when I was a boy, working on my first model with my dad. I wonder if my kids will remember a scene from last night in twenty-five years. I wonder if there will be a company manufacturing models for my grand kids to build. And I wonder how many brain cells this hobby has cost me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It sucks to be stuck in muck

I've never been stuck in quicksand.  I understand it is an unpleasant experience.  Like falling into a vat of Cream of Wheat.  I've never been stuck in a vat of hot breakfast cereal either, but I've eaten it so I feel like I'm an authority.

I have been stuck in muck, though.  Up to my butt.  It reminded me of a a great children's story called, "Ducks in Muck".  It is a fun read for kids and parents alike.  It was the first thing I thought of when I got stuck.  "One schmuck, stuck in muck.  Oh yuck." 

I was hunting geese in Idaho last week.  It was cold and the wind was blowing about 20 m.p.h.  My hunting partner and I set up 95 goose decoys and spent the morning waiting for the birds to fly.  We could see an ocean of waterfowl off in the distance after the sun came up.  After a couple of hours we decided to walk towards them.  My hunting partner went off through the brush on the right, and I headed left.   I wanted to hide by a little dead tree in the stream out on the marsh.  I took off with my dog and we made our way into the marsh.  I was doing fine, only sinking in a few inches with each step.  My dog floated over the mud with endless enthusiasm and agility. 

As I approached my spot, the patches of grass in the mud thinned and disappeared.  I figured it was just where more water was running from the connecting stream.  My next step absorbed my leg to the knee.  I wasn't surprised to sink into mud that thick.  Knee level isn't unusual.  So I made the mistake of taking two more steps which sunk me into the mud just above my inseam.  I started struggling to get out.  Panic and a touch of claustrophobia set in as my lets cemented deeper into the muck.  That was when the words of "Stuck in muck"  came into my mind.  Only my mental version was picking more profane rhymes as I fought for my freedom. 

The problem with marsh muck is that it is thick.  It's like tar.  It's hydrated clay.  I could have made a ceramic bowl for Mother's day out of this stuff. 

As I struggled to pull my leg out, the other leg sank in further and the leg I was trying to pull out was coming out of my wader boot.  As perspiration covered my body from inside the waders to top of my head, I took a break and leaned back, literally sitting where I was standing as if a stool was behind and underneath me.  My dog walked up and laughed at me, the webbing between his toes acting like snowshoes keeping him from sinking at all.  The sun glistened over his chocolate coat and he posed like a canine body builder, every muscle in his legs popping out.  He looked at me as if to say, "Hey buddy, you could be this fit too if you only ate dog kibble.  No more Hostess for you!" 

My mind raced back to a trip my family took as a kid to the La Brea tar pits.  In L.A. county there is a place where tar bubbled up to the surface making a small lake.  Scientists speculated that when it rained, water would pool over the tar and animals would come to drink and get stuck.  There, on display are mammoths, saber tooth tigers, and human remains.  One display lets you pull on a handle that is stuck in tar.  It doesn't move. 

"Cache, I'm stuck.  Go tell Pa to bring the rescue chopper!"  I yelled in my best southern accent.

He kept laughing at me.

I unloaded my shotgun and pocketed the shells.  I tried using the stock of my gun as a shovel to push some of the muck from my boots as they came out.  It wasn't working.  More muck flowed like thick lava into the holes I shoveled.  I considered tossing my gun onto the grass, but decided against it.  I said a little prayer.  I'd been stuck over 20 minutes and I was getting tired and frustrated.  Then I got angry.   I fired my legs like pistons and fought for the edge.  If I could get several feet over, I would be free.  It took a few more minutes of fighting but I managed to get up to my knees again and then to where I only sank in a few inches.  I stood up tall and took large gasping breaths of air, celebrating my new found freedom. 

I met up with my hunting partner again.  He didn't even know I was in trouble.  He laughed at me too.  I was feelin' the love.  We hiked back to our decoys.  The wind had picked up to 45 m.p.h.  Many of our decoys were blowing away.  Some were in the stream floating out to sea.  We spent the next two hours chasing plastic geese all over the countryside.  My dog did a couple of dozen water retrieves to bring our decoys back to dry land. 

We packed up and went to Denny's.  The Lumberjack slam never tasted so good.  I said another prayer, grateful to not be stuck in muck any more. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why is saving the earth so noisy?

OK, it was bad enough when eating chips was noisy when you chewed.  Many conversations while snacking involved halted chewing to be able to hear what the other person was saying.  But the new Sunchip bags take it to a new extreme.  I swear that vacuuming and operating a concrete chisel are quieter activities than eating out of the new "green" bags.  I mean seriously, could they be any noisier?  I have to put on my shooting earmuffs before opening a bag of Garden Salsa Sunchips.  I'm talking afterburner decibels.  Is hearing loss really what we have to accept for a greener Sunchip bag?  Don't bother replying.  I won't be able to hear you anyway.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gun taboos

I took my kids into the national forest in the mountains behind our home to target shoot.  We set up to shoot .22 rifles at targets 50 feet away on the side of the mountain.  We here 3/4 of a mile from any buildings and there are no official trails on the side of the mountain where we were.  I saw no hikers on the side of the mountain and set up targets where the bullets would fly directly into the dirt behind them.  My kids wore eye and ear protection and took turns shooting one at a time to prevent an accident, since I was the only adult working with them.  My eleven year old daughter and nine year old son are getting very proficient with keeping their fingers off the trigger and pointing the guns in a safe direction at all times.  I am not concerned with my kids coming across a loaded gun at someone else's house.  They have learned to respect and be careful with guns.

We were following all of the National Forest gun laws as follows:

According to the Code of Federal Regulations (title 36), recreational shooting can take place on the National Forests and Grasslands, as long as:

1. You are further than 150 yards from a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation area or occupied area.
2. You are not shooting across or on a National Forest System Road or adjacent body of water.
3. You are not shooting in any manner or place where any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result of such discharge.

There are also laws an littering.  My kids collect their brass and all the garbage from targets to candy wrappers when we are done, whether or not it is our garbage.

Some hikers walked up along the dirt trail that was behind us.  The trail ran perpendicular to our shooting lane.  My daughter was shooting.  I had her safety her .22LR with a green Hogue stock and a bull barrel.  She slung it over her shoulder as a courtesy as they passed.  As they passed they told us we should shoot at a shooting range because people hike in the National forest.  I thought of saying they should walk their dog at a dog park on a leash (it is illegal to let a dog off it's leash like they were doing), or they should hike somewhere else because sometimes people shoot there.  But I didn't.  I was polite and waited for them to pass behind us.  As the lady passed she pulled out her cell phone and started snapping pictures of us.  Presumably, she called the police and was informed that we can shoot in the National Forest, but it still ticked me off. 
 
I guess what upsets me is people's ignorance to law and their attempt at imposing what they "think" the law should be on other people.  So many grow up without exposure to guns and it makes them afraid of those who have had exposure, even when they are following all the rules.  How did guns become so taboo in our country? A good law abiding citizen in California can't get a concealed carry permit. There is a general mistrust of guns becoming more prevalent in our society.
 
Utah is still pretty gun friendly.  It is actually legal to walk into Wal-mart with a loaded pistol on your belt.  It is called "open carry" and is totally allowed.  You will probably get the police called on you, but it is legal.  To carry a firearm concealed in Utah you must have a special concealed carry permit.  That permit lets you carry a firearm almost anywhere.  I have a concealed carry permit.  I am a big fan of carrying a .45 Glock in an inside the pants holster whenever I leave my home for self-defense.  I hope I never have to use it for that purpose. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

How many flies could a fly-trap trap if a fly-trap could trap flies?

While at the home improvement store the other day, my six year old son, Coleman, spotted a Venus fly-trap for sale.  He had seen them on a cartoon and wanted to bring one home to feed crickets.  I told him he could get one if he saved his money.  We went back a couple of days later after he did some weeding in our yard to earn six dollars for the plant. 

Once we got the plant home from the store we set it on the kitchen counter.  He ran upstairs.  We have four pet lizards and a container full of crickets to feed them in my bedroom.  He returned to the kitchen holding the cricket carrier in his hand like a sacrificial lamb. 

He had a huge grin on his face as he chased the smallest cricket in the container around the clear plastic walls.  Once he got hold of the insect, he stuck it into one of the plants claws.  The prison gates of the plant clamped down over the insect as it squirmed to get free. 

My son yelled out, "COOL!" and reached back into the container for another cricket.  He repeated the process two more times before I escorted the crickets back to their spot next to the lizard cage.  The lizards live in the master bedroom with my wife and I.  I love the sound of crickets at night. 

My son followed me upstairs with his plant in hand.  He put it in his windowsill. 

A couple of days passed and I went in my bathroom to brush my teeth before bed.  Next to my sink was the covered Venus fly-trap.  I pulled off the cover and jumped when three full-size jumbo crickets left from their prison and lept for cover behind the cologne and face soap.  My son thought his plant was so ferocious it could take on bugs that were a third it's size. 

I rinsed off my toothbrush and spit in the sink, watching the three crickets make their way through the labyrinth of hair products on my wife's side of the faucet.  After a few minutes, I managed to wrangle up the crickets, who were promptly released in the lizard cage to live out their final days. 

My son came in my room in his guitar-hero underpants and a white wife-beater t-shirt and went straight to the plant.  He carefully lifted the lid to search for living crickets.

He turned to me with the pot in his hand, a smile exploded across his face.  He said, "Ah, Dad, yoo arent goin' to believe this!  My plant ate three GINORMOUS crickets.  It mus've been very hungry.  I'll get it some more." 

"No.  No more crickets.  I think your plant is full."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wal-mart vs The Morons

Wal-Mart vs. The Morons

I didn't write this, but it is so dead on I had to post it...




1. Americans spend $36,000,000 at Wal-Mart Every hour of every day.



2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!



3. Wal-Mart sells more from January 1 to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.



4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target +Sears + Costco + K-Mart combined.



5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people, is the world's largest private employer, and most speak English.



6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the world.



7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger and Safeway combined, and keep in mind they did this in only fifteen years.



8. During this same period, 31 big supermarket chains sought bankruptcy.



9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world.



10. Wal-Mart has approx 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are Super Centers; this is 1,000 more than it had five years ago.



11. This year 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at Wal-Mart stores. (Earth's population is approximately 6.5 Billion.)



12. 90% of all Americans live within fifteen miles of a Wal-Mart.



You may think that I am complaining, but I am really laying the ground work for suggesting that MAYBE we should hire the guys who run Wal-Mart to fix the economy.



This should be read and understood by all Americans Democrats, Republicans, EVERYONE!!



To President Obama and all 535 voting members of the Legislature,



It is now official you are ALL corrupt morons:



a.. The U.S. Postal Service was established in 1775. You have had 234 years to get it right and it is broke.



b.. Social Security was established in 1935. You have had 74 years to get it right and it is broke.

c.. Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You have had 71 years to get it right and it is broke.



d.. War on Poverty started in 1964. You have had 45 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to "the poor" and they only want more.



e.. Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. You have had 44 years to get it right and they are broke.



f. Freddie Mac was established in 1970. You have had 39 years to get it right and it is broke.



g.. The Department of Energy was created in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. It has ballooned to 16,000 employees with a budget of $24 billion a year and we import more oil than ever before. You had 32 years to get it right and it is an abysmal failure.



You have FAILED in every "government service" you have shoved down our throats while overspending our tax dollars.





AND YOU WANT AMERICANS TO BELIEVE YOU CAN BE TRUSTED WITH A GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM ??

Thursday, July 22, 2010

If you're happy and you know it catch a fish

Yesterday was a great day.  A perfect day.  So I took my youngest son fishing.

My six-year-old son, Coleman, was determined to catch his first fish.  He has been trying for months, if not years.  He was upset that it had not happened yet. 

We left my house at 5pm and headed for East Canyon reservoir in our 15 passenger van that we call, The Escape Pod.  We towed my little boat behind the escape pod and stopped for dinner at McDonalds where my son ordered an extra hamburger with extra pickles (his trademark).  During our one-hour drive there, we talked about some of his favorite things.  He told me his favorite animal is a lizard, his second favorite is a cat (we don't have a cat), and his third favorite is a dog (we do have a dog).  He told me his favorite bird is the "bald one" (a bald eagle).  He also told me about the girl in his Sunday School class that he likes because, "Her's cute". 

We got to the lake and parked to set up the boat.  It is a ten-foot long, green, plastic, bass boat with two seats, an electric trolling motor, a fish-finder GPS system, and four pole holders.  It is a great little fishing boat with a top speed of 2.11 Miles per hour when going with the wind.  That is plenty fast for trolling and cast fishing.  We have a lot of fun with it. 

I asked my son how bad he wanted to catch a fish.  He said "Really bad".  I asked him who would help him catch a fish.  He pointed at me.  I took his finger and pointed it skyward and told him to say a prayer to help him catch a fish.  He took his over sized red hat off and folded his arms.  His legs dangled over the side of his fishing chair on the boat.  I nodded my head as I peaked to keep us floating in the right direction.  "Heavenly Father, please help me catch my first fish.  And please keep us safe.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." 

I smiled and said my own silent prayer.  "Father, please help me teach my son about prayer today.  I'm not asking for a fish for myself, but please let him have that experience today.  Please help him get his first fish.  In Jesus name, Amen." 

I handed Coleman his pole.  He had been practicing in our front yard casting with a spinning reel.  I was amazed at how proficient he was, almost immediately.  He fished with a shallow running Rapala rig, and I set up a trolling rig for trout.  We ran shallow at first and worked our way into deeper water with no luck.  After about ninety minutes it started to drizzle on us.  "Good thing I brought my hat,"  Coleman said.  "I think we should go home now."

"But what about your prayer?  You asked God to help you catch a fish.  You have to have a pole in the water and do the work for him to answer your prayer." 

"OK," he replied and cast his bait back in the water.  The drizzle stopped.  It was just a little summer shower.

The sonar showed some fish in a small underwater ravine, so I dropped anchor and we switched to stationary tackle.  I let my son try a worm and I set up a power bait rig.  We dropped them both thirty feet to the lake bottom and watched the sonar intently.  There were fish moving on the bottom from time to time.  I saw my son's pole twitch and I set the hook for him.  My son's bottom lip was hidden under his top teeth as he concentrated on the water.  He reeled clumsily and the fish flashed at us.  It was a nice pan sized rainbow trout.  I grabbed the net and surfaced the fish, water shimmering past my sons exploding smile.  The sun was setting behind him in brilliant pinks and purples that matched the stripe on his fish. 

"I can't believe I caught my first fish!" he said through is smile as I gave him a high five.  I had him reach into the tackle box and pull out the stringer.  He pushed one end into the fishes mouth and out its gill and I took his picture.  It was complete with a melted candy bar all over his face. 



We placed the fish back in the water and tied the stringer to the boat.  I slipped my hand back into my tackle box past many hundreds of dollars of fancy crank baits and expensive spinners and pulled out the four dollar bottle of orange and green floating Power Bait.  I rolled a ball and slid it onto his simple treble hook and tossed it clear of the side of the boat.  Coleman cast it back into the spot his first fish came from.  He reeled it back in with a second and larger rainbow trout moments later.  When I netted his second fish, he announced, "I caught that one all by myself!  We can go home now."  He was eager to show his fish to the rest of the family. 

It started raining again as I pulled in the anchor.  It was getting dark and we turned on the navigation lights.  I pulled two baits 200 feet behind my boat on the way back to the dock, but had no luck for myself.  When I finished reeling in my baits, and prepared to dock the boat, I looked at my son and asked him, "Who did you ask to give you a fish?"

"God."

"What should you do now that you have a fish?"

He thought for several seconds, watching his fish on the stringer in the water.  "Thank him."

"How do you thank him?"

"Prayer."

"Good answer.  Go ahead and say another prayer."

He pulled off his big hat and folded his arms again.  "Heavenly Father, thank you for my first fish.  And the extra one.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

"And thanks for keeping us safe."  I whispered

"Oh yeah, and thanks for keeping us safe.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." He finished.

"Amen."

We got the boat back on the trailer.  It is a flat trailer for ATVs and hauling yard waste, and the boat just slides up into it when I push hard enough.  Coleman pulled the dock rope and helped as much as he could. 

We got back in the van and stopped for a treat.  I got chocolate chip cookies and milk.  Coleman got a sour chewy candy bag and a blue drink called "Bug juice." 

Half way home, Coleman sat in the front seat and started humming a song. 

"What song is that, Bud?"

"If you're happy and you know it."

He went from humming to singing, and made up new verses every couple of minutes.  I sang along with him. 

He had every right to be happy.  He had a Happy meal with extra pickles for dinner.  It was a beautiful day.  The sunset was breathtaking.  The water was warm.  He caught two fish.  And God answered our prayers.  We were happy and we knew it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What a rattlesnake taught me about God

My wife spotted a Cooper's hawk in the shade under one of our trees eating a Mourning Dove yesterday.  The hawk ambushed the dove while the dove ate at one of our bird feeders.  The hawk stayed there, in the shade on the lawn, for over thirty minutes plucking feathers from his kill and eating breakfast, as we watched in awe through my spotting scope from the kitchen.  Doves are monogamous and the one that wasn't killed stayed nearby until the hawk left.  I think it was waiting to be reunited by its mate.  The surviving dove will mourn a little louder for a while.

Last week a rattlesnake got hit by a car near my house.  The neighbor boys brought the body over to show me.  We got out my dissection kit and opened it up.  As the sun set, there were fifteen neighbor kids circling me on the curb, watching with mouths wide open as I exposed it's organs and we took turns looking at its features through a magnifying glass. 

I'm an animal person.  Not merely a dog person or a bird person, I'm an animal person.  Petco loves me because I use a shopping cart every time I visit.  We have two ferrets, a bird, three lizards, a dog, and forty or fifty crickets in the house at any given time.  I have literally twenty five bird feeders and a birdbath in my back yard.  I believe that animals testify that God exists.  I cannot fathom that we happened here by chance. 

I believe that God gave us two huge gifts.  He gave us this beautiful planet, but he also gave us agency.  Some use this agency to hurt others.  Some use it to help others.  Then there is me, trying to figure it all out, sometimes offending and hurting others, and sometimes offering a hand, trying to be a good father, husband, neighbor, and son.  A lot of what is bad in life can be attributed to someone's bad decisions.  But some parts of life are just part of living in a mortal state, like the dove getting eaten, or the rattlesnake getting hit by a car, or my son getting type 1 diabetes at 8 years old, or me being born without a sense of smell. 

At the end of the day, as the sun sets, and the crickets start chirping, and the birds seek shelter for the night, life is a miracle.  It is a miracle that we are here.  It is a miracle to take a breath and move my fingers over a keyboard.  It is a miracle to live another day.  A rattlesnake taught me that.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Why does our national anthem question if the flag is still standing at the end?

Did you know that we only hear part of the national anthem when it is sung publicly?  The first verse of four is recited.  It ends questioning if the flag is still waving.  It isn't until the second verse that the question is resolved.  On this fourth day of July in the year 2010, I wanted to remind everyone about the rest of the anthem and some of the powerful themes and messages it carries.  I am grateful to God and his sons and daughters who fought to protect this nation.  I am thankful to live where I can worship and live according to the dictates of my conscience. 


The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics


By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

URINAL ETIQUETTE

Men are territorial by nature.  We live in artificially close quarters.  That leads to some unspoken rules for males.  Many of those rules apply to when it is time to urinate. 

Most public places have urinals.  In fact, I have considered putting one in the corner of my garage.  That would be awesome.  My sons think it is a great idea.

There are four cardinal rules of men's bathrooms.  1. Do not talk when urinating.  It is distracting and may cause a condition known as pee-shyness.  This condition affects many men's ability to initiate a urination.  Talking may be engaged when all parties have finished the business end of the bathroom trip.   2. Don't look anywhere but directly in front of you or at the ceiling.  3.  It is imperative that you don't touch another man while he urinates.  Even if you realize from your peripheral vision that the man peeing next to you is your long lost brother.  Patting him on the shoulder while urinating could cause a psychological disturbance making pee-shyness a permanent condition  4. Follow urinal etiquette as explained below.  (Notice there is no rule on washing hands.  There is some pressure to do this when in a group of three or more, but it is not required.)

Urinal Etiquette is based on the number of urinals and how many stations are in use when you enter the bathroom.  These rules apply regardless of how bad you need to use the bathroom, but might be broken if you are using the bathroom with a close friend or family member. 

Single Urinal Scenarios

The single urinal is the most common scenario a man faces.  If it is unoccupied, you are free to use it.  If it is occupied, one must wait in line against the wall furthest from the urinal, or use the toilet, preferably with the door locked.

Double Urinal Scenarios

If there is no metal divider between the urinals, a double urinal should be treated as a single unit.  Again, you should wait against the wall furthest from the urinals, or use the toilet.  If there is a divider and one urinal is in use the second one is fair game. 

Triple Urinal Scenarios

Most establishments that can afford triple urinals, have gone through the expense of partitioning them off.  Therefore most buildings with three or more urinals do not need to be treated as singles.  However, if you are visiting an establishment without partitions, treat the urinal array as a single entity. 

If there are three vacant urinals, it is forbidden to use the middle urinal as it makes the other two urinals occupied.  Compare this to "ghost runners" in baseball.  There isn't anyone on base, but yet there is.  So, the general rule is that there is a "ghost pee-er" in all adjacent spaces.  Therefore, the first person to enter the bathroom must use urinal one or three, leaving a ghost pee-er on the second urinal.  The second visitor can take the other side, and if a third person happens to show up, he can displace the "ghost pee-er" and fill in the middle position, but only if urinals one and three are occupied.

Four Urinal Scenarios

As with triple urinals, the outermost must be used first.  Some confusion arises for the third visitor as he must choose between urinals two and three.  Usually he will choose the station closer to the man he is less intimidated by.  If station one is occupied by a five foot man and station four is occupied by a six foot six inch man, and you are shorter than six foot six, station two is your best bet.  However, if you are over six foot six, or are extremely confident, you may choose station three.  The fourth visitor need not worry about confidence or intimidation, and can merely displace the ghost pee-er from the remaining station.

Five Urinal Scenarios

In this situation the middle urinal may be approached by the first visitor as it leaves stalls one and five open for the next visitor.  The remaining stalls can then be broken down as three station configurations with one end taken. 

Unique Scenarios

Troughs at Angel Stadium

When I was a kid growing up in Southern California, my dad took me to an Angel baseball game.  At angel stadium, we fought our way into the bathroom between innings with fifty other men.  I really had to go.  Two sodas were fighting their way though my bladder when we stood in line to use "The trough".  It was just like a horse watering station, a long trough with water running in one end and draining out the other side.  I walked up and unzipped to find the trough full of ice.  Not only was I surrounded by a dozen other grown men with no partitions, but I was expected to pee on ice.  Pee-shyness kicked in for a good two minutes as I tried my darnedest to get rid of my excess fluid.  My dad telling me to hurry up did not help.  Finally relief came and I melted an ice cube.  It was a novelty I have not duplicated at any other venue.  Thank you Angels stadium.

Harassing your brother

While on a road trip with my younger brother we stopped to get gas and use the bathroom.  He knows I try to make him pee-shy by standing in the station next to him and kicking him while he tries to go.  On this occasion he decided to use a toilet stall and he locked the door behind him.  I heard the him lift the lid and start to urinate.  Since there were no other patrons in the bathroom, and I was in dirty clothes to begin with, I rolled onto the floor in front of his stall and slid on my back like a mechanic, sliding under the opening under his stall door.  I grabbed both of his feet with my hands and screamed at the top of my lungs.  He jumped about ten feet in the air, totally unsuspecting of my attack.  I'm pretty sure urine hit the roof and the wall behind the toilet as he jumped out of the way.  I shimmied back out of the stall faster than his expletives to avoid being kicked.   That prank broke three of the cardinal rules.  I spoke, touched, and broke the stall spacing rules.  However, I did not peek. Since he is already permanently pee-shy there was no harm done. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

FRIGGIN' TAXES

So we drovee our new, used-car home on Saturday.  On Monday, my wife spent her entire day fighting for government compliance.  She got a safety and emissions inspection done (about $100.00) just to license our car.  It passed.  She got the transmission flushed and oil changed (for my peace of mind, not government compliance).  Then she spent a couple of hours at the D.M.V. (the unhappiest place on earth?) to pay more money ($187.00)  for a piece of paper and two pieces of metal that let us drive the friendly Utah roads.

When she got home she handed me the receipt for the registration.  First of all, I want to rant about double taxation.  Someone bought this car from a dealership and paid sales tax to the state.  Now, eleven years and two owners later, the state requires another sales tax payment for the same vehicle.  And if I sell it tomorrow, they will require yet another. 

Lets look at what fees were assessed to make up $187.00

1. Motor vehicle title $6.00.  OK, I agree to a fee that says this car is mine.  Six bucks, not bad.

2. State Sales Tax $47.00.  Did I already mention that double taxation is crap?

3. Local Sales Tax $10.00.  Oh, there are multiple sales taxes.  That's convenient.  My hands started clamping down on the title a little harder.

4. Zoo, Cultural Tax $1.00.  What the *%@&%?  Is it assumed that I will take this car to the zoo, or is this to pay for the zoo that is the D.M.V.?  Seriously.  That is a dollar I could have used on a Slurpee on my way home today.  But instead there is a Zoo, Cultural Tax fund.  What is that for?  I mean, I still have to pay when I go to the zoo.  The zoo isn't free.  The food there isn't free.  What the *%@&%?

5. County Options Sales Tax $2.50.  Wait a second.  Didn't I just pay two other sales taxes?  There is a third one?  Two and a half more Slurpees I can't buy now.

6. Mass Transit Tax $5.00.  What?  I own a car, I don't take the bus.  Tax the people who use mass transit for using it.  Now I have to pay a tax for something I don't use?  Five more Slurpees.  So much for family night at 7-eleven.

7. County Option Transportation.  $2.50.  OK, now they are just making stuff up.  That sounds like a medical term a doctor uses to confuse his patient.  Ya, I'm gonna need surgery.

8. Supplemental State Sales Tax.  $.50  Wait a second.  Didn't I just pay three other sales taxes?  Only half a Slurpee, maybe the public won't notice.

The first eight fees come to $74.50.  That is under the heading of Title a Vehicle with a Utah title. 

Now we move on to the LE Skier passenger/LT Truck heading.

9. Uninsured motorist identification fee.  $1.00.   Are we microchipping uninsured motorists like pets now?  If I run that scanner thingy from the vet hospital over an uninsured motorist will it beep and call for the police?  I'm not gonna get any Slurpees this summer.

10. MV Drivers Education.  $2.50  OK, I took drivers ed like twenty years ago.  Can I quit paying for it yet?

11. Plate fee $5.00.  Licence plates are kind of cool.  Five Slurpees sounds like a fair price.  Maybe even six if they have that sweet new metallic shiny paint coating.

12. County Assessed Fee Current year.  $50.00 Another medical term.  Is it contagious Doctor?

13. Weber County Gasoline Passenger.  $1.00 Does my gasoline passenger have to wear a seat belt?  Does he look like the water monster from the movie "The Abyss"? 

14. Cor Fee - Weber $10.00 Now they aren't even spelling out the fees.  I think cor is short for corset.  It is the fee for close fitting undergarments.  I should tell them I'm not wearing underwear.

15. Passenger registration 7/09 $43.00  Hmmm.  Do I have to register my passengers?  What if I am the only one driving the car?  I'll even take the other seats out  for you.

Grand total, one hundred and eighty seven Slurpees.

Fifteen fees later and I was feeling violated.  It's like someone took a couple of taxes and put them in a box with plenty of food and water and they reproduced like rabbits, making a bunch of baby taxes.  And we stupid citizens keep paying them.  A dollar here, another dollar there.  Next thing you know 7-eleven is out of business. 

Wait, I propose the Slurpee tax.  Just one more dollar every time you register your car.  Brain freezes are worth it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Slurpees and Saturdays

My wife wrecked her van a couple weeks ago.  Yes, everyone is OK.  But the van is dead.  A total loss. 

She shopped for two weeks to find a car.  She put a status update on her facebook page that read, "Emily is:  looking for a good used car driven by a grandma."  Within a few hours an old friend from high school replied,  "My grandma has dementia and is getting rid of her car.  Give me a call."  It was an eleven-year-old car with 54,000 miles with a set of extra snow tires for a great price.  We agreed to come see it on Saturday.

In the mean time, my wife has been driving my van.  So much so, that there was no gas in it on Saturday when I trailered up and went to get a load of wood chips from the composting facility.  I left the house at 1:30 p.m. We needed to leave at 3:30 p.m. to go get the new car.  All the kids came with me rather than stay with mom to weed planters. 

On the way to get gas and Slurpees, my diabetic son yells out over my country station, "Dad, I only have four units of insulin in my pump." 

A silent expletive left my lips as I realized my wife left me with no gas and no insulin.  Slurpees and gas would have to wait until we were on our way home.  We didn't want the shaved ice to melt completely while we waited for my son to get an infusion of insulin to handle the tidal wave of sugar in an extra large cherry Slurpee. 

Turned out we had about six miles worth of fuel in the van.  That was just enough to get our load of wood chips and drive dead center between two gas stations on the way back.  Two miles either direction stood between us and fuel.  It was now 2:30 p.m.

"Kids, we have no gas, and mom has no car to bring us gas.  We are on our own.  We need to hustle.  Lets go."  The kids piled out of the van and started walking.  My wife's side of the family has an aversion to socks so my daughter was in flip flops, my son was in vans, and my younger son was in sandals.  I was in boots.  With socks.  Like always.

A mile down the road, my diabetic son's foot starts blistering.   I'm pretty sure another expletive ran through my head. 

Two miles later, my son was walking barefoot with the blistering foot, and I paid $9.99 for a stupid one gallon gas can.  I shook my head at the $.69 sales tax the state made for doing nothing.  My kids wanted their Slurpees, but I wanted to get back to the car in a hurry.  I thought Slurpees would deter would-be hitch-hiker picker-uppers (yes, I did just use three hyphenated words in a sentence).

We jaywalked across the road and my kids started walking like they were crossing the Mojave and were parched with thirst.  I smiled as I looked at my pathetic family.  Surely someone would have mercy on a man with three kids and a gas can, thumbing it down the road. 

Fifty cars drove past as we passed the first quarter-mile.  Barefoot son was almost crying.

Then someone stopped.

We ran up and explained our plight and they moved some miscellaneous car gear from the back seat.  We were rescued. 

My kids thanked them and explained we were walking "all day in the hot sun with no Slurpees." 

We got back to the car at 3:40 p.m.  We filled the tank the rest of the way and got the much coveted icy drinks.  My kids were silent.  We got home at 4:00 p.m. with a full tank of gas and empty Slurpee cups. 

My wife has her own car again.  Life is back to normal.  That was the second time I've hitch-hiked with my kids, but that is a story for another day. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Not for human consumption

I went fishing this afternoon. 

On the way to Willard Bay, I stopped at Maverik and got a Styrofoam container full of mud balls and a dozen night crawlers. 

When I got on the water I set up a bottom bouncer weight with a double worm hook.  When I pulled the top off the worm can, I read the label.  "NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION"

OK, lets get this straight.  We aren't supposed to eat the worms.  I kind of thought that was self-explanetary.   

So I baited my hook and cast it into the water.  Then my mind started racing.  I've heard that for every disclaimer there was an associated lawsuit. People hire attorneys for every conceivable shortcoming.  I just heard about a lady suing an airline because she fell asleep on her flight and the stewardess failed to wake her.  She was on the plane four hours after it landed, still sleeping.  I don't think she has a case.

Then I remembered McDonalds getting sued for a woman spilling hot coffee between her legs.  That is why all the coffee cups now say, "CAUTION: CONTENTS MAY BE HOT"

So now my Styrofoam worm can says "NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION"  What human ate the night crawlers and then sued the worm company?  Whoever wins a lawsuit like that should have to wear a sign for the rest of their lives that says, "WARNING, I REQUIRE SUPERFLUOUS DISCLAIMERS FOR MY OWN SURVIVAL"  The back of the sign would need to say, "NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION" 

Friday, May 28, 2010

The day our bus-boy tried to kill our newborn

Six years ago we brought home our youngest child. 

After three weeks at home with a newborn and two toddlers, my wife was stir crazy.  She wanted to take the family out to dinner on Saturday night.  She was craving meat so we headed north to a great steak-house up the road a bit from North Ogden. 

Our toddlers were acting extraordinarily well-behaved that evening, as they sat and played with their toys, but our newborn was fussy.  He wasn't crying or screaming by any means, but he was making louder than normal baby noises. 

Our waitress came and took our order.  We ordered half a cow as I rocked our baby in my arms to try to keep him quiet.  A few restless minutes passed and a buss-boy came to our table and set down a two-inch tall miniature bottle of warm baby formula.  He turned and walked away.

I held up the bottle and inspected its contents.  "Wow, you go to a fancy steak-house and they bring your newborn a drink too.  That's pretty cool.  Do you think he is being too fussy?  Do you think they are trying to politely tell us to shut our kid up?"

"Can I see it?"  One of my toddlers asked, reaching past my outstretched arm.

"No, it's not a toy, it's for the baby."  I responded, holding the bottle out of reach.  I set the bottle down on the end of the table where the check is usually dropped off so it wouldn't be disturbed.

Several minutes passed and the baby and the toddlers grew restless.  It was a busy night and our meal was delayed. 

"It's gonna be a while.  You haven't fed the baby yet.  Why don't you feed him the bottle?"  My wife asked.

"That sounds fun."  I reached over and popped the clear cap off the top with one hand.  The lid bounced around on the table and fell onto my older son's lap.  He looked up and smiled.  He looked back down and filled the lid with Lego's.

The babies head jerked around to the touch of the nipple to his cheek.  He latched on.  His lips settled into a steady rhythm and I leaned back, enjoying my family.  I looked up and smiled at my wife.  She winked at me.  We were prepared to last a few more minutes without nourishment.

Just when we expected our food to arrive, the restaurant manager came to our table with an expression that feared a lawsuit.

"Good evening," her voice cracked.  "I don't know how to say this, but that bottle was supposed to go to a different table.  A customer gave the bottle to a waitress who gave it to a cook to warm up, who gave it to a bus-boy to return it to the customer, but he saw your baby and gave it to you on accident."

I pulled the near-empty bottle from the babies mouth.  "Tell me that was formula." I said as my head rolled back and my eyes widened.  I set the bottle down on the table and the manager picked it up. 

"Yes, I'm pretty sure it was just formula."  she replied.

There was silence for a moment as I stared at my wife and looked down at my newborn son, questioning my ability to use common sense. 

"Well, lets find out what was in the bottle I just fed my newborn."  I demanded in a whisper.

"I'll do that sir, I'll be right back."  She walked away with the empty bottle in her hand.

I shook my head while staring at my wife.  "That thing sat right on the edge of our table for ten minutes without being touched.  She's probably wondering what kind of idiot puts a random bottle in their kids mouth.  It looked like a disposable bottle, a little one use thing you would just throw away.  We've never taken a baby to a nice restaurant before.  Oh, this is just unreal."
A few minutes later the manager returned with the look of someone who just lost a lawsuit.  "It wasn't formula."

We ate half a cow while wondering what to do next.  The baby fell asleep, totally oblivious to blood-borne illnesses and STD's. 

We got a chance to talk to our baby's surrogate milk donor.  It turned out she was a nurse at Primary Children's Hospital.  She worked with children who had compromised immune systems.  She had regular blood work done for her job.  She told us we couldn't ask for a better milk donor.  Somehow I believed her.

I sometimes wonder if what we considered to be an act of complete stupidity didn't help our son.  Maybe she passed an important antibody to our son.  Maybe his surrogate milk donor helped him avoid a serious disease.  Sometimes what seems like a curse is really a blessing.

We ate at that steak-house again with our three kids last month.  We ordered a whole cow that time.  I avoided the temptation to order a miniature bottle of breast milk.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Who's breastmilk is in my freezer?

I work from home and I eat lunch around two in the afternoon. Today at around 1:45 p.m. I opened the freezer door with my left hand and the refrigerator door with my right to take in the full view of available snackage. I had in mind to get some hot-pockets but was distracted by what looked like a white rectangular astronaut drink pouch straight from N.A.S.A.

"What the heck is this?" I said out loud to myself. No one was home to hear me. I tipped it over to find a date handwritten in permanent marker on the side. My hand immediately shot back as if it had run into spiderwebs under a couch. It was some one's frozen breast milk container.

I stepped back from the refrigerator and swung the doors shut. I wondered how milk could startle me. We drink four gallons a week at my house, how could a little frozen bag make me jump?

My mind went into overdrive. My youngest is six, so it definitely wasn't from my wife. I tried to figure out how many suckling children had been in my house lately and which one of them left their lunch in my freezer. Overcome with hunger, I gave up on the question and went back to eating.

I decided against the hot pockets. To get to them I would have had to face the astronaut drink pouch in the freezer again. I decided on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The raw materials for that meal were on the other side of the kitchen.

I did, however, eat lunch with a tall ice cold glass of cow's milk. I thought I could use the calcium.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What makes your life worth living? Why not just roll over and die?

What makes your life worth living. Why not just roll over and die? Here is the list I started before my daughter was born 11 years ago of things that make my life worth living:

1. Emily’s fluttering eyes
2. Puppies
3. Dogs
4. Lizards eating moths after chasing them down
5. Catching really big fish on lakes where there are “no fish”
6. Buying any kind of gear
7. Emily’s curly brown hair
8. Big Stores
9. My mom’s lasagna
10. Back massages
11. Foot massages
12. “Other” massages
13. Sparkling apple cider
14. Pet stores
15. A spotless house
16. Video games
17. Dinosaur toys
18. Rock and Roll
19. Books
20. Jets
21. Building models
22. Shoot ‘em up movies
23. Pet stores
24. Emily’s kisses
25. When it’s so clean you don’t have to wipe
26. Lingerie
27. High test scores
28. Correct answers that were well thought out from difficult questions
29. Bubbles
30. The ocean
31. Being up and working before the sun is
32. Sunrises
33. Fresh snowfall
34. Baseball
35. Reading Stimulating literature
36. Physics
37. Titanic the movie
38. Speaking Russian
39. “You’ve got mail”
40. Nikki-dog
41. Jogging
42. Hiking
43. Sleeping like spoons
44. Rex and Torque the lizards
45. Being right
46. “A’s” (grades not the team)
47. Emily’s cute-sy look
48. Hitting home runs
49. Blocking home plate so well that the runner never gets within two feet of the plate
50. The dream of hitting a baseball into Hartman’s pool from Fohi’s field
51. Carrie’s smiles
52. Carrie’s laugh
53. Baby “bubbles” (the ones they make with drool)
54. Carrie’s blue eyes
55. A good night’s sleep
56. “Jane’s F-15” flight simulator
57. Wingman interceptor flight controller
58. Walks with Carrie
59. Geckos
60. Science
61. Cookie dough and moose tracks ice cream
62. Scouting
63. Sunrises on campouts
64. Toys
65. Toy section at the store
66. Tool section at Sears
67. Victoria’s Secret
68. New books
69. Lizard stuff
70. Bed time
71. Frisbee football
72. Mail order CD’s
73. IBC Root beer
74. Reptiles magazine
75. Jogging strollers
76. Being Naked
77. Skinny dipping
78. Understanding an entire Chemistry lecture
79. Watching Emily breastfeed
80. Carrie trying to crawl
81. Carrie sticking out her tongue
82. Carrie sucking on her top lip
83. Insects
84. Stars on a clear night
85. Locking the door after work
86. Showing Carrie off
87. Showing off pictures of Carrie
88. Watching live minor league pro baseball games
89. Ballets
90. Ballet goggles
91. The board game Risk
92. James and Blake’s “alliance” in Risk
93. Jurassic Park and Lost World (books and movies)
94. Candlelight dinner after work
95. Carries Crinkly nose
96. Amazon.com
97. Barnesnnoble.com
98. Janes.ea.com
99. Carrie humming while eating
100. Carrie playing chase
101. Carrie Playing peek-a-boo
102. Being able to see the mountains in California (no smog days)
103. When the checkbook balances
104. Payday
105. Carrie saying “dog” and her excited look
106. White-wings paper airplanes
107. Watching lizards eat crickets
108. Seeing Emily dance naked
109. My multi-meter and ammeter
110. Having enough work to make lots of money
111. Having my dad say he’s proud of me.
112. Being satisfied at the end of a day
113. Watching young scouts come together in a time of emergency
114. Christopher’s dimples
115. Looking at Christopher’s eyes
116. Playing anything with Carrie
117. Tic-tac-toe with Carrie
118. Watching the stars with Carrie and having her fall asleep in my arms
119. Commission!
120. 500 crickets in a box on my doorstep (lizard food for my breeding colonies)
121. A Blake-clean house
122. Fixing a problem in record time with no hang-ups
123. Kristine’s hugs
124. Snapping my sister’s bra
125. My dad’s handshake and smile after shooting my first deer
126. Craftsman tools
127. My air compressor and shop vac
128. Root beer
129. Macaroons
130. Emily’s lasagna
131. Em in a bikini
132. Long talks with my mom at 2-4 am
133. Monetary gratuity
134. Watching Carrie hold up her snake saying “FUFFY” (the snake’s name was Fluffy)
135. Hearing Carrie say “Izard” when she wants to go to the garage to hold the lizards and watching her hold both hands out in anticipation
136. Em’s long hair
137. When Em packs a lunch for me
138. Seeing Evan get married
139. Christopher’s “Webster” laugh
140. Watching Chris run
141. Tickling my kids
142. Chris running to me with two bar clamps, handing me one and making a light –saber clashing noise
143. Chris’ fascination with airplanes
144. Chris saying “ug” when he sees a bug
145. Carrie and Chris’ workbench
146. Model rockets
147. Being the one in the neighborhood the boys catch snakes for
148. Carrie calling me at work and saying with a gasp, “Uhhh! It’s Daddy!”
149. My outdoor fish pond
150. Reading
151. Getting my college diploma
152. Business potential
153. Hummingbirds fighting over my yard
154. The way it feels when a goldfish nips at your finger
155. Chris’ black eyes
156. Big, well-trained German Shepherds
157. Getting certified to work with Freon
158. Being out of debt
159. The “Bed of Roses” Soundtrack
160. My three car garage
161. My rocket launching system
162. The first house we bid on falling through (got us in this house)
163. This house working out
164. My reptile room
165. Being the only Russian speaking appliance repairman with a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Science in the entire world.
166. Smallville
167. Adam Sandler movies
168. The dog run
169. Automated sprinklers
170. Movie family night at the outdoor amphitheater in Ogden
171. Palm pilots
172. Glide recovery rockets
173. Radio shack
174. Finding out that Em is pregnant
175. Riding lawn mowers
176. Knowing that reptiles are coming out of hibernation
177. Snake tongs
178. Lizard nooses
179. Affecting young men in a positive way
180. Sports cars
181. Big trucks
182. Jars of Clay: Little Drummer boy song
183. Rocky Movies
184. The undying resolve to never give up
185. Staying up late to think
186. Chris standing by my bed and staring when I wake up
187. Carrie’s smiles
188. Riding Garden Tractors
189. Fixing microwaves in my shop
190. Garden tractor wagons
191. Egg lofting rocket competitions
192. Rock-sim software
193. Father-son campouts
194. Carrie smiling and sprinting to me across the yard when she see’s I’m home
195. Hearing the pipes in the basement crackle and knowing Emily is getting out of the bathtub
196. Coleman falling asleep in my basement office with a blanket
197. Hitting waffle balls with kids
198. Air rockets
199. Winning the egg-lofting contest
200. Geocaching
201. Breaking records with my business
202. Seeing a competitor’s magnet on the refrigerator I’m working on.
203. “Escape-pod adventures”
204. Dutch oven cooking for family
205. Chris wanting to play computer games
206. Chris asking if today is a work day and me saying ”no”.
207. E-bay
208. Being my own boss
209. Creating a successful business
210. Knowing my competition
211. Taking my dog backpacking
212. Air-shows
213. The F-22
214. Central air (don’t have yet)…so Swamp coolers
215. When my yard is topped off
216. Finding good employees
217. Baying bills the day they come
218. Netflix
219. Jennifer Garner movies
220. Girls with Sai’s (the weapon)
221. Glocks
222. Concealed carry permits
223. Tactical batons
224. Light/laser attachment for Glocks
225. Walking on a frozen lake
226. Ice fishing
227. Sonar
228. “The Pelican” 10 foot plastic boat
229. Cache doing a 200 yard blind retrieve
230. Cache coming out of thick brush with a duck in his mouth
231. Watching Carrie catch a 6 pound 3 ounce Wiper – her first fish
232. Watching Chris catch his first fish, a rainbow trout, through the ice
233. 15 passenger vans
234. Klondike campouts
235. People asking who trained my dog
236. Taking my dog into restaurants as a service dog
237. Headlamp flashlights
238. Butterfly crescent kicks
239. Step up side kicks
240. Sparring
241. Watching Carrie spar against two boys
242. Sparring with Emily
243. Gina Carano fights
244. The ferrets attacking Emily’s socks
245. The ferrets stealing tennis balls.
246. Coleman asking if we can cuddle
247. Coleman wanting to help fix his bike so he can ride

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sardines and six-year-olds

It must be close to payday because we are down to sardines and crackers for lunch. 

Actually,  payday was supposed to be last Friday but we are self-employed and there is no money to pay ourselves yet.  So, we are eating the sardines from our food storage.

Actually, I am the only one who eats sardines.  They remind me of camp outs as a teenager.  I don't know why we thought sardines were good camping food.  They are messy, they stink up the campsite, and invite bears.  Then you are stuck with the stupid can and the blade of a lid trying to stab you until you get back home to a real trash can. 

My six-year-old was fascinated by his father eating whole fish on crackers and he wanted to try some.  With salt.  (Because everything is better with salt!)  He got his own can and stuck his finger through the loop.  He pulled pin, detonating the sardine juice grenade.  Sardine shrapnel flew onto the table and onto the shirt he was planning on wearing to afternoon Kindergarten.  Yes, my kid is the stinky kid in class. 

After cleaning up the carnage, we built a sardine sandwich.  I watched his face closely.  His eyes were full of trepidation as he stared at the cracker coffin with a fish on top.  He looked like he wouldn't have been surprised if the fish started flopping around and hopped right off the table.  It took him a second to gather enough courage to try it.  He stuck his tongue out and touched it to the side of the fish. 

"Dad, it's cold."  He said, surprised.

"Of course it's cold.  You don't warm up sardines."

He took a little bite and chewed with a pucker on his lips.  I waited to see if he would run for the trash can or keep it down.  He swallowed and took a bigger bite.  With the full sardine flavor in his mouth he squinted.  I handed him another cracker to neutralize the taste. He finished his snack and looked up at me, wiping the fish juices on his shirt with his fingers fully extended. 

"Dad, I don't really like sardines."  He said.  "But it is sure fun to open the cans."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Did it bite me?

It was late Friday night.  My wife and I were cuddling on the couch and enjoying a movie.  The kids were in bed, asleep.  It was 9:00 p.m. and the sun was setting.  We heard voices on the driveway and I paused the movie to see what was going on. 

I peaked out the window and saw five boys crouched in a tight circle on my driveway.  I opened the front door and called out, "Hey there gentlemen.  What are you up to tonight?"

"We know you like snakes so we brought you one."

I smiled and skipped down from the porch over to the breaking huddle.  I looked down in the twilight and felt my heart stop for a second.  My smile evaporated.  They were all in striking distance of a baby rattlesnake.  

"Boys get back that's a rattler."  I tried to say with a calm tone.

The boys shifted back and the rattler coiled up. 

"Did it bite me?  Did it bite me?"  One of the boys yelled out as he patted himself down like a spider was in his shirt. 

"If it bit you you'd know it.  Stay back.  How did you get it on my driveway?"

"It was slithering across the street.  It didn't rattle at us, so we thought it wasn't poisonous.  I took my shirt off and threw it over the snake and bundled it up.  It was just a block away from here."

"See its tail?  When they hatch there is no rattle.  Every time they shed they get a new knob and the knobs rattle against themselves when they shake their tails.  Look at the jaw, see how it looks like a pit-bull?  A head like that means it's venomous.  Watch it for a second while I get my snake tongs out of the garage.  Stay back!"

I returned moments later and put the rattler in a red five-gallon bucket with a twist on lid that was used as a shield.  I decided to keep the snake intact.  I needed to teach my kids what kind of snake was too dangerous to handle.  I filled the bucket with water and drowned the rattler.  I had leftover formaldehyde from college.  I used it to bottle the snake in a mason jar. 

An hour after we paused our movie, I presented the bottle to my wife.  She kept her distance as if the snake was still a danger to her in the jar.  I showed it to my kids in the morning.  They gained a new appreciation for something that lived near our home.

A couple of months later, while I was shopping, I came across a robotic rattlesnake that was motion activated.  It hissed, it's head struck, and the tail rattled when you passed in front of it.  I couldn't resist buying it and placing it in the refrigerator to scare my spouse.  It has scared her every time I put it in there.  I think she liked it because she never threw it away, she just threw it at me.  Those are good times dodging toy rattlesnakes from a scared wife.  I think it's about time to get that toy out of storage again.


NOTE:  Every year I get called in to catch one or two rattlesnakes from neighborhood yards.  Those snakes get to ride in the red bucket  to the top of the canyon where they are released back into the wilderness.  Many people have learned about rattlesnakes and their benefits through the bottled specimen.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Boys, flint and steel, and smoke

We just got home from our annual Father-Son camp-out with our Cub Scout pack, Boy Scout troop, and all the younger brothers.

I got there early with my boys. We set up the battery powered foam ball pitching machine. We enjoyed a couple of hours of batting practice before dinner was served. We ate chicken and chips and drank lemonade before the boys formed up by age group and disappeared. Some of the older boys went back to the pitching machine. A Nerf football game started, and some boys were playing laser tag. I sat down in the shade to rest for a few minutes in a collapsible blue camping chair. I chatted with a couple of the other dads that were there. We were discussing the subtle taste differences in the new Pepsi compared to when it was made with cane sugar. I can't taste the difference.

Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye. A cloud of white smoke funneled up from a grove of trees next to the picnic tables. Through the trunks of the aspens I made out the shape of half a dozen younger boys surrounding a small fire.

I looked over at the dad next to me. His eyes met mine and he said, "Don't look at me, my boys are grown up, that's gotta be your kids." He laughed a nostalgic chuckle that made me look forward to being a couple of decades older.

I pushed myself up from the chair and trotted over to the plume of smoke. My six-year-old was crouched down next to a small circle of rocks they used to make a fire pit. He was feeding the small fire one pine needle at a time with a look of pure delight on his face.

"What are you boys doing?" I asked.

"Brock's Dad said we could start a fire." My son looked up with no guilt in his eyes. He was either becoming a seasoned liar, or he truly believed he had permission to build a fire.

"I'm pretty sure he didn't want a fire next to all these trees."

"But we brought water to put it out." My son said as he went from crouching to kneeling. He reached for a little Dixie cup full of water. It might have been big enough to hold two shot glasses of liquid.

"I'm glad you are being safe. Poor it on the fire and build a new one in the big fire pit over there." I pointed past my camp seat to the big fire pit.

My son poured the water onto their small fire. I was surprised to see it go out so easily. One of the other boys immediately pulled a flint and steel kit from his pocket and dropped to a knee where he proceeded to launch sparks into the muddy remnants of their fire. His face squinted with determination, like a medic doing CPR on a child, determined to restore the flame of life. After several strikes he let out a deep sigh and his shoulders drooped. I restrained the desire to call out the time of death.

He took another breath and jumped up as the team effort came back to life. "I'll get more pine needles." My son called out.

"I'll get more paper." The boy with the flint and steel responded as he bee-lined for his tent. "Everyone else get more sticks." He yelled over his shoulder as the group scattered.

I went back to my seat. The other dad was still laughing at me. We quit talking about sugar cane and tried to determine how young is too young to give a boy a piece of fire starting equipment. He was pretty adamant that I was still too young for that kind of thing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rocket propelled eggs

Every May for the past eight years our scout troop puts on a unique event. Each time we witness men and boys diving for cover as fresh grade A eggs fall from the sky with incredible speed.

It's our eighth annual Father-son egg-lofting contest.

A couple of weeks before the contest we start building the egg-lofting rockets. Kits are distributed to around twenty father-son teams. My two boys each get a kit.

I'm a little eccentric. To help me build a better rocket I bought a model rocket flight simulator program. It lets me simulate changes in the parameters of the rocket such as the fin shape and rocket size to improve my flights. My wife thinks I'm crazy.

My son's enjoy building rockets. First they build the payload compartment that holds and protects the egg during the flight. They glue the motor assembly together and mount it in the rocket body. Then they glue the fins on the sides with elementary-school finesse. I follow them with a rag to wipe off the dripping glue and to help straighten everything out. After the glue sets, the boys use spray cans to create a strangely patchy, yet runny paint job that would make any auto body-shop employee cringe. But hey, it's their rocket and as long as it is glued together correctly I don't care how it looks. Structural integrity is the only thing that is important when you are sending an egg into the atmosphere at 120 miles per hour.

The day of the launch is pure excitement. We normally camp overnight and by ten o'clock in the morning on Saturday the boy's excitement peaks. I built a five lane rocket-launching system to speed up preparations. Five rockets can be prepared to launch simultaneously. Then we launch one rocket at a time and use a stop-watch to see how long each stays airborne. The team with the rocket that stays airborne the longest is the winner.

The most interesting launches are over in seconds. The rockets achieve an altitude of around 500 feet before the parachute deploys. Sometimes the parachute doesn't open and the egg comes drops back to earth with impressive promptness. We have an award for the most scrambled egg.

It is also amusing when the wind pushes a parachuting rocket over the forest, never to be seen again, with a father and son running together across the field in hot pursuit.

Occasionally a rocket malfunctions and never leaves the pad. The resulting smoldering heap is carried away with outstretched arms like it's an injured family pet.

In spite of the lawn darts and catastrophic take-offs, the event is a thrill to everyone in attendance. The grand prize is a three foot tall progressive trophy. It has granite eggs on top of pillars and a post to mount the winning rocket on top. The winning team keeps the trophy for the year. The winner's name is engraved on the trophy and it is passed on to the next year's winner.

My name hasn't been on the trophy in eight years. I need to go run some more rocket simulations. Maybe my wife is right...

Monday, May 10, 2010

The day my mom attacked me with a broom

Mother's Day brings back lots of memories.

I tripped over a broom in the kitchen yesterday and remembered a little incident with my mom twenty-something years ago.

My mom was usually pretty calm, but some things put her into a frenzy. I weighed 180 pounds by the time I entered eighth grade and she gave up on trying to physically punish me. She liked to talk and her replacement punishment was to lecture me. It was an effective disciplinary technique that I dreaded as a teenager. I would have preferred a good paddling and being on my way.

Once in a while I pushed her too far. That was the situation on a spring day after school when I was in Jr. High. I can't remember what I was accused of, but I was probably guilty. I was so guilty that my mom gave up on the lecture and chased me upstairs to my room with a kitchen broom. She was pretty upset. There was rage in her eyes. The amazing part was that she chased me up the stairs and managed to grab a broom on the way faster than I could get in my room and lock the door. She must have been skipping stairs.

I was nervous about being hit by a broomstick so I took a safe position on the far side of my bed. That's when she decided to try to knock the model airplanes off my wall with her weapon.

I spun around the end of the bed and grabbed the broom. She was hell-bent on getting it back so I broke it in half with my knee. For some reason, at the time, I thought breaking the broom would save the models, even though they were low enough to be hit without a weapon, and she was just bluffing. Lucky for me she switched focus from the models to the broom when it split in half.

"That's it! I've had it. You are buying a new @#$%&* broom." My mom was only guilty of swearing while brandishing a weapon. I can't remember her ever getting mad enough to swear at anyone but me. I have that effect on women.

The models were safe that day and I did end up buying her a new broom. It was a nicer one than she had before and it came with a dustpan. I felt bad for driving her crazy.

In spite of the battles and the rough patches, my mom and I were always very close. She was usually awake when I got home and we would often sit and talk for hours.

Now I live twelve hours away and we still talk on the phone for hours. Now she laughs at me when I am in a rage for something my kids have done. There is a hint of reserved, "You deserve it," in her laugh. I probably do.

Thanks for putting up with me mom. I love you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The diabolical woman who invented cushy toilet seat covers

Women are diabolical. If they can't get men to comply voluntarily, they move to compulsion. It was a woman who invented the cushy shag toilet-seat cover.

Let's analyze this for a second. How many people sit on a closed toilet seat? Let's count them.

ZERO!

That's right folks, no one sits on a closed toilet seat. Putting a cushy little earth-tone cover on it has no functional purpose except to frustrate bladder-challenged males. You see, toilet-seat covers have only one function: To keep the toilet-seat down. But it comes at a cost.

Men pee standing up. When you put a stupid cover on the toilet seat it spring loads that sucker and won't let it stay open. How many men have thrown their backs out while holding a spring loaded toilet seat open with one knee while trying to parallel park in the little space next to the porcelain throne? This orientation puts us shooting at the narrow aspect of the toilet. Does the word 'over spray' have any significance to you? They should sell spy cameras on the cushy toilet seat cover aisle. The ensuing footage would be worth some money.

And, no ladies, sitting down to pee would not be easier.

I would like all the men out there to join me in a little rebellion. Any time you come across a toilet with a cushy seat cover impeding your urinary freedoms, please remove the seat completely and hide it somewhere. Don't worry, hiding that little furnishing for a day or two should guarantee a cease fire. You'll never have to pee with a balancing knee in the air again.

But if the cushy toilet seat cover comes back, we move to phase two: urinating in the sink. The sink is safer. Workers Comp doesn't cover injuries incurred while wrestling with a toilet seat cover.

Ladies, learn to work your toilet seat. It is not a complicated piece of equipment. If it is up, please move it to the down position before setting up for a landing. We don't even ask you to return it to the upright position when you are done.

I apologize in advance if this rebellion causes a diabolical woman to invent the bathroom sink cover with a cushy shag cover.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Parasites, crickets, and rattlesnake poop

I discovered an interest in cold-blooded animals as a Boy Scout. My patrol leader, Adam Weitzel, had me over to spend the night at his house. On his desk glowed a glass terrarium with plants, a water bowl, and two Anole lizards from Florida. He was raising them for the reptile study merit badge.

He handed me a small plastic cage full of crickets and showed me how to reach in and grab a cricket to feed the lizards. I dropped mine and we crawled around chasing the escapee. We released him into the lizard cage where he was devoured in a matter of seconds. It was a blast to feed them and I was sad when they were too bloated to eat another insect.

My mom didn’t know what she was getting into when she took me to buy my first Anole lizard the next weekend. She learned to hate it when I came downstairs and told her I was out of crickets. One more errand to run. Thanks to my mom the lizards survived and I earned the reptile study merit badge in the months that followed.

My interest in reptiles continued into college. I started a gecko breeding colony that devoured a shipment of five hundred live crickets every two weeks. My wife learned to hate when I told her we were out of crickets. Buying five hundred at a time got to be a little expensive. Not to mention, our living room sounded like a tropical rain forest.

My senior project for my Animal Science degree was on parasites of reptiles. I met a Professor on the Internet who had access to an electron microscope. I sent preserved lizard mites to his lab in Hawaii. I collected the mites from the arm-pits of local lizards I caught in undeveloped dusty fields in Southern California. He sent me electron microscope images of the mites months later. The detail of the pictures was breathtaking. It was hard to believe something barely visible to the naked eye had large hairs on its body.











While waiting for my images to come back from Hawaii, I was taking an upper level Herpetology course that had a weekend field trip to the Mojave Desert. Twenty college students armed themselves with snake tongs and buckets. We were determined to catch as many reptiles as we could find in two days.

Sidewinders are the only snakes that leave “footprints”. We came across some sidewinder tracks in the sand and followed them to see where they went. At the end of one of his tracks was a perfectly formed sidewinder stool sample. It contained the undigested portion of his last meal. I jumped up and down in excitement as I pulled a sterile vial from my pack. A sidewinder poop was just what I needed for my parasite presentation. I zipped it in a protected pocket like a prized gemstone. You don’t get to bottle rattlesnake poop every day.

I jumped up and down again when I got to the lab. Under a camera microscope, I took images of a microscopic intestinal parasite, from the diluted stool of a sidewinder rattlesnake. That image was the trophy of my presentation.





I still enjoy watching reptiles and amphibians feed. Now I’m the merit badge counselor for the reptile study merit badge. I just realized I’m out of crickets.







S.E.M. image above taken by Dennis Kunkel. All other images by Blake C. Goddard

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It works just fine

I bought a twelve foot by seven foot flatbed trailer from a neighbor last weekend. He told me it was working just fine. I believed him. I knew the lights worked on it last year because I went hunting with him and the trailer. A lot can happen to a trailer sitting outside all winter though.

"It works just fine," is a copyrighted phrase held dear by people who have yard sales, used car salesmen, and middle-age men on their eighth marriages.

All I wanted to do was haul off a load of branches from my yard. I loaded up the trailer with pine boughs until it was full and hitched it to my van at noon. I didn't know I would be troubleshooting trailer lights until dark.

It turned out I had multiple problems. They started in the wire harness on my van. Two wires were broken there. The connections on the trailer plug had some corrosion so I changed those, and I found three burned out running lights on the flatbed. Trips to three different auto parts stores to find the right bulbs, and two Cherry Slurpees later, I fixed the problems and turned on the lights. They all lit up and I did a little victory dance on the dark street. I was overly proud of my electrical prowess. My victory dance took me around the trailer as I inspected each light, chanting, "I'm the man... I'm the man."

Then I turned on the blinkers. All the lights started flashing under the pine boughs like a wacky trailer shaped Christmas tree. I kicked the tire and murmured under my breath something about the similarities between my trailer and human feces.

Half an hour later of Internet research I learned a few things to check. I cleaned the ground wires connecting the trailer frame to the frame of my van and said a little prayer asking for forgiveness for comparing my new trailer to something I wanted to flush. I hit the blinker and at eleven o'clock on a Saturday night, I fist pumped the air. All the functions were working properly.

Now I can say, "It works just fine."