31 March 2011

Hail Springfield

I so wish the Springfield we are visiting today was the home of the Simpsons, alas, no. That town deserves an entire amusement park, not just a ride.  Universal Studios Theme Park, are you listening?

No, the Springfield we are visiting is the capital of our corrupt, politically whacked fine state.  The Spring Break Cavalcade continues here in the Den.  Today, we go here:
I am so, so stoked!  Totally excited to pay homage to Abraham Lincoln.  I'd like to say my kids are as pumped as I am.  They are not.  I'm sure this little side trip is akin to sitting through slide shows of other peoples' vacations.  Like your aunt's trip through the Badlands of the Dakotas.  300 slides.  Those never ended well.  But I don't care.  I'm all kinds of excited.  The good news for my kids is that some of our good friends are going as well and so we have diversions as a result.

So, it's history geek bliss day for me.  And it's Opening Day!  So it's pretty much guaranteed to be an excellent day.

28 March 2011

The Campus Tour

Another rite of passage today.  We toured this campus:
Hail, BYU-I
BYU-Idaho is the campus of choice for CAL and she starts this fall.  Neither the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML nor I had been on said campus in more than 25 years, so it was good to be here today. 

We toured around via golf cart, a plastic-encased one, I might add.  It was snowing, so the plastic was appreciated.  Mother Nature is as fickle here as she is in the Midwest.  The campus has changed but we were delighted to see CAL getting more and more excited as we toured the grounds.  She seems genuinely excited about starting this new chapter in her life.  I do think it's going to be a great experience for her. 

So I'm really glad we did this.  She's going to be fine here.  We had a chance to reconnect with some of CAL's California friends who are here studying and they are doing well.  Wow!  They've grown up and it's further proof that my uncontrolled fall into the abyss of middle-age continues unabated.  Outstanding!

27 March 2011

A long drive

As our spring break cavalcade continues, we are looking at a long day of driving today.  Somehow, I don't think it will be this level of bliss:
Oh advertising...why do you lie?

Nothing but bliss for that family of four.  Good for them, but for us, not so much.  The rental car we've got doesn't seem to lend itself to such euphoria.  Let's face it, I've never been much for driving long distances.  When it comes to vacations, I'm happy to drive about as far as the airport.  That's always worked nicely as it fits with my "If it doesn't have at least two engines and a flight attendant, why bother?" philosophy.  Today, not so much.  I know that the five or so hours we have of driving today really isn't that much.  I mean it's not like we are attempting a cross-country shoot me now, please kind of a drive.  This will be worth it as we will get to see where CAL will be living come this fall when she heads out to school.  It.Will.Be.Worth.It. 

25 March 2011

And a hush fell over the assembled throng

Last night we had the chance to join several hundred other fans at the BYU Marriott Center to watch BYU play Florida on the Jumbotron in their NCAA Sweet Sixteen match-up.  It was an amazing game - on more than one occasion I thought I'd need the assistance of a couple hits from the cardiac paddles to get through the game.  The energy in the crowd was amazing until the last two minutes of overtime, when it was clear the Cougars would not be advancing to the Elite Eight.  A hush, one so think you could cut it with a knife, fell over the assembled throng (mostly freshmen - and DO NOT even get me started on that crowd.  Or how funny it was that every single time a beer commercial came on, it was quickly replaced with an ad to win a date with a Cougarette.  In my book, no good comes from either option, but I digress.  One more editorial aside - it is not necessary to wear overalls and a hardhat to the game, BYU freshman kid, and if I have to explain why, well, it's too late). 

As we walked out, I got to thinking about the amazing college career that had just ended for this young man:
What an incredible player and his playing career has been amazing to watch so far.  And he's just a decent, good guy.  You don't get that a lot in athletes.  Jimmer's the real deal and I wish him all the best in the next phase of his career.  It will be fun to watch.

Earlier in the day, as we had to, once again as the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML pointed out, run through an airport to make a connection, I thought of this disgraced, murderous, thieving athlete:
Yep, O.J., we had to run through an airport like you used to.  It's funny to think of the decency and humility of someone like Jimmer and then think about you.  Talk about juxtaposition.  I think Jimmer will turn out a bit better than the Juice.

23 March 2011

Something else I learned today

Working from home affords me the opportunity to take in a little afternoon television while I am eating lunch.  Usually I can watch the previous night's "Daily Show," which is consistently awesome.  Today, because I was hungry, I happened on to the Food Network and watched a little bit of the "Barefoot Contessa."  I learned the following:
  • The Barefoot Contessa is neither barefoot nor a contessa
  • She is, however, amazingly pretentious
That was my key learning today.  That is all.

From the journal 25 years ago today: A few moments to write on this domingo.  We saw M. ayer y hoy and he's going to be baptized today.  I hope this will be all he wants it to be.  We taught the first to J. yesterday.  We taught a fourth to N.  We had twelve investigators at Church today.  It was such a cool service.  After Church represented the usual transporte nightmare.  We got everyone taken care of by some big miracle...It's been a really great day.

22 March 2011

PC Rage: Day 2, An Update

In case you were wondering, I still am full of a hot burning rage towards the virus-choked PC that is inhabiting our house.  It won't let go either.  Trying to get rid of the scourge is like trying to get Charlie Sheen off the pipe.  And we all know how successful that's been.  There is light at the end of the tunnel, though.  The magician knows who he is and he is free to do what needs to be done to fix the bedeviled PC.

In the meantime, I need to go peruse apple.com.

21 March 2011

So done with the PC

The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML has got to have the most virus-prone computer on the face of the planet.  It's infected once again this evening.  I can't even count how many times it's been infected.  Her PC is a regular HOT ZONE of computer viruses.  Nothing we do to protect/disinfect it seems to matter.  I am convinced it will shortly break out with the Ebola virus.  I am beyond frustrated.  Tonight's viral fiesta is the "Vista Security 2011" devil. None of the manual instructions are working.  I can't get out to the internet to try and download a fix.  I've had it.  It's time to get a Mac.  And to the little 13 year old tool in his flat in Bulgaria that cooked this one up (or any of the 1000's of other viruses), man, do I wish...well, never mind the cruelty I wish on you.  I'm supposed to be better than that.  Supposed to be...

From the journal (yes, a written journal - that's what we had before blogs, kids) 25 years ago: I am getting so bad at my writing schedule.  This being in a foursome hasn't helped in the least.  But V. and G. keep me laughing.  Especially G.  He is one funny Chilean...We've been trying to keep Hermana C. from having a stroke because of some crazy Mexican woman.  Finally have C. convinced to leave the country.  I really want her to get on a plane so she'll calm down...Started working with a lady from Colombia who is showing a lot of interest.  All of our Nicaraguan members are despondent because the $100 million aid to the Contras was rejected by Congress.  It is sad.  I wish the members of Congress could know these people the way we do.

19 March 2011

Hey kids, let's bomb Libya!

As if we didn't have our hands full enough.  It's not like we "won" in Iraq.  And winning in Afghanistan?  Maybe we should try Charlie Sheen's "winning" strategy there.  It sure has worked well enough for him.  Ahem. 

No, let's push on to Libya.  Let's launch an attack on a third Muslim nation and let's see how that works for our public relations campaign in the Middle East.  Lindsay Lohan has a better chance of winning a Lifetime Achievement Oscar for her pathetic compelling body of work than this has of convincing the disaffected in the Arab world that the West isn't t trying to run them over.  This just isn't going to end well. 

President Obama, you've bummed me out.  I've had your back, which in my world, has been no picnic.  You've got me more than a little worried here, sir.

18 March 2011

25 Years Ago Today

I've not hidden much when it comes to this blog.  It's a pretty vivid picture into my life and my way of thinking.  To some, I say too much - my late father, on more than one occasion, expressed his concern about what I had said in the "pages" of the Den.  My wonderful Dad was concerned about what I had to say pretty much my whole life.  He had an amazing filter - I do not. 

While I won't ever have my Dad's filter, there's much in his life I hope I'm emulating.  He was a great example and I tried to think of that example when I served a mission for my Church.  I've made no secret about being a Mormon.  It's a part of who I am and much of who I've become occurred as I served in the Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission more than 25 years ago.  I've been thinking about that mission a great deal lately as we have a couple of friends who have sons awaiting mission calls in the coming days.  I've even gone back to the journals that I kept for those two years.  I've laughed, cried, and squirmed as I've read it.  Now it's your turn - I've decided to take snippets from entries I wrote 25 years ago.  I won't do this every day, but I'll keep this going until I run out of patience I get asked told to stop or I get bored with it.  Whichever comes first.  Here goes:

18 de marzo 1986 (Editorial aside - I served a Spanish-speaking mission, apparently putting the dates in Spanish was my lame attempt at demonstrating my bilingual skills): I thought I'd be spending the day at Miami Int'l with members, but of course, there was a change of plans...Saw Sandra.  Wound up loaning her $100 so she can get her little brother out of this Texas refugee camp.  (Editorial aside - I'm pretty much certain I never saw that $100 again.)  Saw members and investigators for the day.  Everyone seems to be progressing.  A good sign...We spent some good time with Juan.  He so badly wants to change his life and progress towards our Father in Heaven...It's cool to see him desire the company of God.  And that's why we are here!

As I reread these journal entries, I can't help but smile.  Man, Miami in the mid-80's was not the place it is today.  I'm really glad I had the time there that I did.  I look forward to sharing more of those experiences.

17 March 2011

Irish Dancing - Can someone help me understand it?

It's St. Patrick's Day - the traditional wearing of the green and yet another reason for Americans to drink themselves stupid (as if much encouragement was required).  I do not claim to be Irish and how could I?  Given that my genetic history is a mystery...who knows what lurks in that gene pool?  But that's a post for another  day.

I heard a story on the soon to be defunded (really, House of Representatives, really?  This is what you come up as a cost-cutter?) NPR this afternoon on my drive home.  Apparently, a flash mob featuring Irish dancers erupted in the Sydney, Australia Rail Station today.  Turns out it was stunt by the Irish Tourism Board.  As anything Australian always captures my attention, I had to find the video when I got home.  Here it is:

I just don't get it.  And by it, I mean Irish Dancing.  Why no upper body movement?  When I see this dancing, I can't help but think the lower half of the dancers' bodies are in some kind of serious seizure and the upper half of their bodies are locked down in straight jackets.  Why so stiff?  Again, I just don't get it.  Can someone help me understand it?  Do I need to?  Probably not.  Happy St. Patrick's Day anyway.

14 March 2011

The China Syndrome

Ever since watching the horrific events of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan unfold live and knowing that several nuclear power plants have been seriously, like Chernobyl serious, impacted, I have been thinking about the movie, The China Syndrome.

Having seen it again somewhat recently, I realize it wasn't the greatest movie ever made.  It did, however, scare me silly.  I recall seeing it when it opened and being terrified at the thought of a meltdown - the scenario playing out in the movie.  It was only about two weeks later that I was on the rolling death trap school bus when news broke over the radio that there was some kind of trouble at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.  That plant - Three Mile Island.  I was glued to my seat as the story unfolded.  I was growing rapidly convinced that some kind of nuclear holocaust was imminent.  Now, bear in mind, I lived on the other side of the continent at the time.  Didn't matter, though, I was freaked.  It didn't help that my science teacher was in full panic mode about it when I got to school.  He was a typical 70's-era anti-nuclear activist and this had him in full seizure status.  The rest of the day was spent listening to what was happening in Pennsylvania and what might happen.  We know that disaster was averted and about the only thing that calmed me down was a very funny SNL sketch about the meltdown. 

So fast-forward thirty-two years, and the nation of Japan is reeling from a tremendous earthquake and tsunami and now, three nuclear reactors in various stages of, well, bad.  I'm not in "China Syndrome" panic mode yet but it certainly is worrisome. I'd be happy to not hear things like "containment vessels" and "radiation releases" for awhile.  What an epic tragedy for Japan.  I've been to Japan on several occasions and it's an incredible country.  The people are amazingly resilient and I'm certain they will recover.  It's going to tough.  My thoughts and prayers are with them.

12 March 2011

To cruise or not to cruise

It's been a busy year of work for both the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and me and we're not even out of the first quarter.  The kids are talking about Spring Break, which is right around the corner, and we're looking forward to it too.  We'll head west to see Our Lady of BYU and to give CAL a preview of the college life that awaits her in Idaho.  So it's going to be busy and fun, but not much of a break.

So I've been thinking what can the two of us do for a break?  Our last big trip was Australia and while I don't plan to top that, I'm thinking about doing one of these:
We've never cruised.  I have some significant reservations, not the least of which is the sense that we'll be hostage with some potentially nutty people.  I know we can pick an itinerary that would be appealing and find a ship that would keep us busy.  I'm just worried that being that close to other guests will turn it into this:
That poster title says it well...it won't take a tidal wave to turn a cruise upside down.  What if you get on a cruise that includes a bunch of car salesmen on an incentive trip?  Or a bunch of family reunions?  There's no way out...that's what worries me.

Am I worrying too much?  Is it worth it?  Thoughts?  Suggestions?  I welcome them.

10 March 2011

Things I learned on this last trip

I got back last night from a five day trip to Seattle.  I was out there for a conference and I had precious little time to enjoy what is a really cool town.  I did learn a few things.  Here are some highlights:

  • If Comic-Con or anything like unto it comes to your town, get as far away as possible.  I learned this the hard way, sadly, this past weekend.  It was Seattle's version of Comic-Con, and it was disturbing.  Lots of "Star Wars" characters walking around the streets as well as "Furries."  Yikes.  And you've never seen so much social awkwardness in your life.  Lots of overweight teenagers who's only interaction with the opposite sex has been online.  
  • In the ward I went to on Sunday, apparently it was "Shirk Your Parental Responsibility Day."  I've never been in a louder Church meeting in my life.  Seriously.  I think it was because it was a "Newly Wed/Nearly Dead" ward.  This could be the subject of an entire post.  Also, it is not necessary to dress your four-year old son in an orange bedazzled (yes, I said it, bedazzled) salwar kameez for church.  Especially when you're not Pakistani.  And your kid is a tow-headed blond.
  • I also learned that I still love Mee Sum Pastry in Seattle and their curry hombow.
  • Finally, I learned the hard way that Mother United should stop serving vegetarian chili in First Class.  Yes, it looked like an improvement over the tepid, watery minestrone that they've been serving for months.  A pressurized cabin.  Lots of beans.  Do I need to paint the picture anymore vividly?
So there you have it.  Some of the things I learned on this last trip.  Yes, it's good to be home.

03 March 2011

The BYU Honor Code

My alma mater has landed front and center in the news this week and it's provided a welcome distraction from the Charlie Sheen (who could use an honor code or two) train wreck.  One of BYU's star basketball players was removed from the team this week for violating the Honor Code.  Much has been made of his dismissal in the media as it comes on the heels of BYU being ranked #3 in the national polls.  The team's implosion against New Mexico the day after his removal only added insult to injury.

As I said, much has been made of this dismissal in the media.  Some of the commentary has made me cringe but most of it has been surprisingly supportive of the University's decision to abide by its code and principles, in spite of the team's ranking and the potential crushing monetary impact of the decision.  As Joe Scarborough pointed out this morning on "Morning Joe," (can I just say how much I enjoy watching the Joe/Mika/Willie rumble every morning - if you're not watching it, you should) the NCAA could learn something from BYU's actions.  The University did the right thing.  It followed its principles, making a very unpopular choice, but doing it for the right reasons.

Look, the Honor Code is a surprise to NO ONE who attends or attended BYU.  No one.  No one can say they didn't know and I'm not saying the young man here is claiming that.  He's done the right thing, owning up to his mistakes and working it out.  He's being supported by his teammates and those who love him.  In my years there, years that I loved by the way, I could not abide anyone who complained about the Code.  My response was and still is, "If you don't like it, get out.  You knew what you were signing up for."  By today's standards, the Honor Code is called unrealistic and out of touch and they said the same thing when I first enrolled there close to 27 years ago.  Could people take their interpretation of it to the extreme?  Sure.  On more than one occasion, I was told I could not take a test until I'd gone home and shaved.  And this was not after several days without shaving...it was more like seven or eight hours.  You laugh that stuff off.

But this much I know...that Honor Code helped form me into the person I am today.  It's a part of the ethical compass that guides my business decisions and actions.  Has it always been easy and have I been perfectly obedient?  No and I would never pretend to be perfectly obedient.  But living by any demanding set of precepts is never easy.  I'm just glad for the chance to keep on trying.

02 March 2011

It’s Time to Play ‘Sheen, Beck, or Qaddafi?’

It’s Time to Play ‘Sheen, Beck, or Qaddafi?’

Click on that link above as fast as you can and be prepared to be challenged.  The differences between an unhinged Sheen, Qaddafi, and Beck are barely perceptible.  A good friend of mine shared this with me earlier today and it liked to have killed me.

What is wrong with this world when we are completely captivated by the shenanigans of a B-list, drug-addled actor?  Seriously, this is madness.  American media is on the Sheen thing like there's no tomorrow.  How 'bout throwing some of that energy into, oh I don't know, the crisis in our public schools?  No, let's ignore that and wonder what pearl of wisdom will come out of the mouth of this train wreck before he self-immolates...it is crazy, my friends, crazy.