22 April 2015

An Old Friend

The grilled cheese? Great. Catching up? Excellent!
As I was walking back to my office down a sun-soaked Lexington Avenue yesterday after a lunch meeting, I looked around, paused, and took in the perfection that was New York City at that moment. The sun, the beaming blue sky, the warmth (although cool enough that the city doesn't smell like pee yet), and the beautiful chaotic symphony of taxi horns, buses belching to life, and people talking as they hustled, all made for a perfect day. I, and I know this will shock you, felt compelled to overshare make a comment about said perfection on the Facebook.

Shortly thereafter, I got a message from an old friend who I have not seen in nearly ten years. He happened to be in the city and wanted to know if we might be able to get together. Fortunately, I had scheduled myself on the later train that night so it would work out that we could connect. What better way to prepare for my usual showdown with our nation's passenger rail overlord than seeing an old friend!

After a debacle with my MetroCard and a mad dash into a cab, I was able to meet up with C. As I said, we'd not seen in each other since our families moved from SoCal within a couple of months of each other nine years ago. Since then, we've both moved again, but thanks to the interwebs, we've stayed in touch. Catching up last night over grilled cheese sandwiches (shout out to C for ordering his with maple bacon!) was just plain old fun. Although much has changed for us both over the years, it was easy conversation and I was reminded how fortunate I am to have the friends that I do. My friend C is a gifted musician / singer and I suspect he has no idea the impact one of his performances had on me. Years ago, he performed a song in church that had me crying like a little girl (and not the creepy fangirl way either). Rather, as he sang that day, and emotions and the Spirit flooded over me and the tears fell with abandon, I realized my sense of manhood would not be diminished by the shedding of tears in recognition of the feelings at that moment. Since then, music in particular has led me to some pretty good emotional moments, for which I make no apologies. Just ask the Chick-fil-A drive-thru girl in American Fork, UT who had to deal with my quivering mess of a self two nights before Our Lady of Awesome got married. The poor thing is, no doubt, still traumatized.

I've never forgotten the impact of that song and meeting up with C last night reminded me again of how fortunate I have been. I've been given so many good friends. I think of things my friends have said to me that have had a profound impact on me. I think about what I've learned and what I continue to learn from my friends and I am grateful. Thank you, friends, for making my life richer. I only hope I can return the favors and kindnesses somehow. I owe C thanks for that lesson he taught me and I didn't say thank you last night, so I say it now - thank you, my friend.

Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together. - Woodrow T. Wilson

20 April 2015

Still a player

Still a player (mural on the wall of a local gym)
Since I'm back home and not holed up in a conference room, I'm back on schedule, posting updates from TMFKATB in a more timely manner. Today's letter was what has become typical of our missionary son - positive attitude and some slyly funny stuff.

He was most excited to report that he's got a "super humble" and "super happy" new companion. For a brand-new missionary, he's older (24, which is halfway to dead by 19 year old standards). He wants to work and it looks like they are getting along well. He lamented some of the challenges of constantly being rejected by the people and figuring out how to grow from the rejection. In the middle of that, he tossed in a non-sequitir about how he had recently cut his own hair. For a split second, I couldn't help but wonder if that wasn't the source of some of the rejection. He talked about some difficulties with a Blister sister missionary. It's challenges like that that are helping him to grow and how to try and get people to make the best of trying circumstances.

He mentioned that the pills he got from the doctor to quell his gastrointestinal drama may not be doing the trick. He deftly avoided any further questions about that but we're not freaking out. He's never been one to not let us know when he's really sick. Once again, we were at peace as we went back and forth with him too. He's got this.

Like the insane mural of NBA players on the side of a gym in southernmost Mexico, he's still a player.

19 April 2015

"Take it easy!"

This wasn't too far off the mark
When CAL and I were in Dallas on our own version of a BYU-I Parents Weekend reboot last week, I posted the following brief screed on the Twitters and the Facebooks:

Ill-fitting tuxes and gowns. Overpowering stench of Axe in the air. Vocal warmups in the hallway. Glee club coach/prison matron with typical big Texas hair raking the kids over the coals for being late. Love it when the hotel you are in is taken over...

Indeed, our hotel had been taken over by a very large high school choir/glee club that was participating in some kind of vocal choral deathmatch. We'd gotten to the hotel the night before quite late and I was crestfallen when I saw the two large buses in front of the hotel. I've traveled far too long to know that buses at a hotel are never a good thing. It's either a group of elderly tourists who will make eating in the hotel an unmitigated nightmare or it's some kind of high school group and no good has ever come of that. Ever. My fears were confirmed when we entered the lobby to the last dregs of the kids checking in. They all carried the enormous pillows that are now the calling card of the traveling American teen and there was all manner of yelling about who had the keys. As we checked in, I gave the somewhat beleagured agent a look that simply pled, 'By all that's holy, do no put us on their floors.' My request was mercifully heeded.

The following morning, as we went down to breakfast, we met the full brunt of the choral bruhaha. Hence the tweet and Facebook page that you saw above. We did not meet the Matron until after breakfast. I'm telling you right now, had I been able to get a picture of her, what you see above would have been her, except she was sporting a bad spiky haircut instead of the "Alice the Brady Maid" wash and set you see above. As we walked into the elevator landing to go back to our room, there she was. The Glee Club Coach/Prison Matron. Shrouded from head to toe in black, she was facing the elevator doors. The toe of her shoe tapped furiously to the beat of the unheard death march that was playing in her head. In her left hand, she held her Smartphone up, time displayed, also facing the elevator doors. You knew this was going to be ugly. As I watched the elevator descend, ticking off the floors to the lobby, I couldn't help but feel badly for the unsuspecting teen songsters. They were about to feel the brunt of a clearly insufficiently caffeinated glee club harridan.

The doors opened and so did her tightly wound fury. Four kids walked off into an onslaught more appropriate for the battlefield in Fallujah than a hotel lobby in Las Colinas, Texas. "Do you know what time it is?" she bellowed. I think one of the boys cowered so hard that I think he went from an alto to a soprano right then and there. "We are late. L-A-T-E! Now get on that BUS!" she hissed. Suffice to say, she was displeased. Glancing over my shoulder into the lobby, which through the haze of the Axe stench, I could see there were still a slew of kids not on that bus, and I thought to myself, 'Lady, take it easy.'

I get it. There are schedules to be kept. There are people to be seen and places to go. Any one who has worked with teen-agers, especially those who teach them (and they deserve to be sainted), knows it can be a bit like herding cats. Sure, some times you need to throw down the hammer. That said, the Matron needed to just take it easy. If only The Boy, or TMFKATB, had been there to say that to her in his obscure accent that he would use on me when saying it. You'll be shocked to know that from time to time, I would allegedly get a little high-strung with my children. Leave it to The Boy to would diffuse it by saying, in that stupid accent, 'Hey, take it easy.' Those little words rattle around in my head even today and I find myself hearing it when I'm in a stressful situation. It's one of those gut checks on how I should react.

'Take it easy.' Try it. It changes things for the better.

16 April 2015

900

900 posts
900. Have you given much thought to the number 900? Neither have I, but the truthsayers of the interwebs at Wikipedia have and here's what they report about the number 900:

It is the square of 30 and the sum of Euler's totient function for the first 54 integers.

Um, do you know what that really is? It is the reason why it took me two years to pass freshman algebra in high school. It is the reason I was the only senior in a high school geometry class full of freshmen (for only two weeks because I dropped the stupid class). It is the reason math is my Lex Luthor, my archenemy.

On a lighter note, the year 900 was when the Postclassic period began in Mesoamerica. It was the year that those tough Venetians managed to repel the pesky Magyar raiders. It was also the year that everyone's favorite Pope, Benedict IV, succeeded Pope John IX.

900 is also what this post represents. I have somehow managed to sustain this little blog thing for 900 posts now. What began as a place for me to overshare has in the last seven years evolved into, well, a place for me to still overshare. So not much has changed, has it? No need really to go back through and look at the highlights of the last 899 posts. That's why there's a 'search' box on the blog. Besides I go back and look at some of it and it reads like an entry into "Mortified Nation." Good times, people, good times.

As I have said in the past, I can't thank you enough, the Den loyalists, who have taken a seat on the sofa here in the Den. I'd like to think I'm doing something right because you're sticking around. I'm glad your my friends. Thank you.

Now, it's 100 posts to 1000. I've got things to think about because there are still stories to be told here.