Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not like any race I've ever been in

Some of you may remember my discovery of the "Spinning" phenomenon. I gained a great appreciation for this marvelous exercise, but it hurt my butt so I've been back to do it a total of zero times. But Traci, the Mrs. HTF, has kept at it religiously. She rides that special bike thing at least 3 times a week . . . and then she runs on the treadmill to "cool down." Yeah, she's that fit.

A few weeks ago she came home all excited because someone in her "class" invited her to be on their team for the "spinning competition." I quickly imagined a few hundred people in a large room spinning around in circles - the last one standing wins. Now that would be fun to watch! But apparently that's not what she was talking about. In this competition they get on their specialized bikes and pedal as fast as they can for 30 minutes. (yeah, so that qualifies as freaking intense!) The team who goes the "farthest" wins. But the part that's had me laughing at random moments for weeks now is the title of the competition. It's called THE RACE TO NOWHERE. Perfect name I'd say. My friend Kevin's wife does it too and he got me started on all of the funny funniness that comes from that name and the race. Here are a few questions/comments about THE RACE TO NOWHERE:
  • Isn't it ironic that the goal is distance, but you literally don't move an inch?
  • If you pedal backwards do you go "somewhere" instead of "nowhere?"
  • Isn't it kinda anticlimactic when you finish the race? "Uh . . . I guess I'm done . . . but I'm not really sure."
  • Maybe for a prize they should give out maps to everybody so they could go somewhere.
  • Or before the race they could hand out a map with a pin in it saying "start here, . . . and end here too"
  • How do you know when you get there?
  • Apparently "nowhere" is straight ahead because I couldn't get those handle bars to turn at all.
  • Isn't it a little bit unsatisfying to train all these hours and end up . . . nowhere?
  • I'm going to try a race like this in my car. I'll see how far I can drive in 30 minutes without the car actually moving. I bet I'll go farther than Traci will on her weak little bike!
Anyway, you get the point. Feel free to add to my list in the comments to this post. Trust me, there are a lot more of 'em out there.

And to my lovely wife- because of my love and commitment I'll be there every step of the way with you, from the starting line to the finish line.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Passing of a Prophet

So many of my friends and family have done blog posts in the last couple days about President Hinckley’s passing. I hesitated, because I’m not sure I have much to add. I know that some of you who read my blog aren’t members of my church so you might wonder what this is all about. (click here to learn what we believe about prophets)

In 1995 I was living up in the Andes Mountains in Bocono, Venezuela as a missionary and we got a call one night before we went to bed telling us that Gordon B Hinckley was the new Prophet/President of the church. This wasn’t a surprise, but I remember distinctly feeling that this was exactly the right person to be in that role. No one had ever been so prepared. He did so much to bring our church into the public forum, and as a member I really appreciated that. So many people associate our church with misconceptions and partial truths, so I’ve always welcomed people shining a light on us. (this is a good NYT article about it) People know Steve Young, The Osmonds, Mitt Romney, & Harry Reid, but sometimes I wonder if they even know that they probably know several “Mormons” personally. (as this little story showed)

Anyway, last night we watched a video about Pres Hinckley’s life (even the kids paid attention now and then) and it sure made me feel grateful to have had him running the show for so long. I was also reminded of stuff I have to work on. I will miss President Hinckley a lot.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Remake of a Classic

Traci came across this on one of the blogs she looks at all the time. The voices aren't the best, but I did get a good chuckle out of this. Most of us are Princess Bride fans and hopefully many of you are Mitt fans, so check this out.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Porch lights and neighbors

A few days after I put up our Christmas lights this year the outlet that they go into, which is also our porch light, quit working. So we got to enjoy our Christmas lights until Dec 3rd or so. But they were great while they lasted. The weather here has been terrible since then, which is the excuse I've used to avoid trying to fix the problem. You see I knew the problem was electrical, and I know about as much about electrical stuff as I do about plumbing stuff as I do about anesthesiology stuff.

So my convenient excuse held up until we hit 50 degrees today. I decided that somehow our house would remain unlit no longer. You see not having a porch light kinda bites when people try to come visit. So I did what I usually do when something isn't working - I took it apart in a way that it could never possibly go back together. I used a tester that I had no idea how to operate to test for an electrical current and surprisingly didn't find anything. So I tore things apart even more.

Finally I realized that I was clueless and that electricity could probably hurt me or at least make me really, really uncomfortable for a few seconds. So I went to my neighbor's house. I am extremely lucky to have one of those neighbors that the rest of you dream about. He knows how to fix most everything, he has every tool I could possibly ever need, and most importantly, he'll come over and help me out when I've exhausted my "taking things apart" strategy. In fact Rick (the aforementioned neighbor) and his family may literally be the reason we're still living in this house. Trust me, you wouldn't wanna give that up either . . . if you had my remedial fix-it skills. Well Rick dropped what he was doing, well, he was holding their baby, so he didn't exactly drop her, but anyway . . . And he came over and helped me fix the electrical problem and install a brand-new porch light. We even got to make a Home Depot run because I dropped a screw in the snow and couldn't find it (further demonstration of how useless I am with this stuff). Anyway, we had some folks over tonight and they were actually able to see the steps in front of our house and everything. Thanks, Rick!

Suggestion to the rest of you - move-in near Rick and I. I can worsen all of your home repair/maintenance problems and Rick can drop the baby he's holding and come fix them.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sprucin' up the place

Well, I figured with post #101 I'd change things up a bit. For those of you who aren't brand new to my blog you'll notice I changed up the design big time. I hoped this would only take 10 minutes or so, but I'm into hour number 3 of getting the new blog up. I won't bore you with details, but I learned lots of new terms like XML, Widgets, source code, and turkey phalanges. I hope you dig it. And if you don't, that you keep that to yourself, cuz I won't be changing things again until my millionth post.

Peace out!

PS - I was just kidding about the Turkey Phalanges, but that would be a good name for a rock band . . .

Thursday, January 24, 2008

100th Post

I just realized that the Pinewood Derby post was #100 for me. A milestone of sorts. Pretty sure that Traci wrote that many last Tuesday between 2:30 and 3:15, but I'm still pretty happy. Let's looks back at what's changed and hasn't changed since that first post back on Dec 17th 2004:

First, what hasn't changed:
- Still living in O-Town, south of the KC
- My kids still don't listen to me unless I'm handing out dessert or starting an animated movie
- Still working at Sprint . . . but those days may now be numbered . . .
- Still can't sit with my family at sacrament meeting
- Same old President of the US . . . looking forward to that change (GO MITT!)
- Same hair style
- Still trying to drop that sympathy weight I took on when Traci was pregnant with baby #1 9 years ago
- I still laugh at Dave Barry & Brian Regan

Now, a few of the changes:
- Allison came into our family!
- High School Musical (1 and 2) brought out the dancer in my kids
- Traci is now a hotter-than-ever Fitness Freak
- My kids discovered video games, wow is that a mixed blessing
- I got my first new car, a stylish, but practical Honda Civic (Ethan will drive it someday)
- Floods in the basement = new carpet
- My attempt to reinstall our wood flooring in the family room = new carpet

Anyway, those are just a few that come to mind. A few of you have been with me since the beginning and endured (or perhaps relished) long, postless months. To all of you, or at least both of you, I say thanks for reading along. Drop me a comment. You can recommend post topics, recommend hair care products, make fun of me, congratulate me, congratulate yourself, or just ask that I stop posting stuff. Whatever works.

Much love,

Monday, January 21, 2008

Power Tools and Holy Cars

This week we had that powerful father/son bonding experience called the Pinewood Derby. We got his "car" in a box. Inside this magical box was block of wood, 4 little nails, and 4 plastic wheels. I tried to convince Ethan (my 8 year old) that you just attached the wheels to the wood, and that was the end of the "project." He didn't quite believe me. You see I'm not a tool guy. (which I guess could make you question the "guy" part completely) I like power tools, but I have zero skills at doing anything besides using only the most rudimentary screwdriver. This must be common knowledge because a few weeks ago a good friend from church (heretofore known has Murphy Racing) approached me and asked if he could help with Ethan's car. I couldn't believe my luck. Not only did he want to help, but he was incredibly good at it and knew exactly what to do. Over a few sessions in his basement we had a WONDERFUL little car - with spinning wheels and everything.

My only significant to-do was to make sure the weight was right. I did use a scale here and there and it seemed we were pretty close to the 5 ounces we were gunning for. But the night before the race we took it to the grocery store only to discover that we were .5 ounces too heavy. In pinewood derby terms - that's a TON. So the next day I drilled out a bit of wood in the bottom to drop some weight. You'll recall my skill with power tools, well in drilling one of these holes I got too powerful and punched a hole clear through the car. Ugh. Ethan was aghast. After all that work he now had a car with a 3/4 inch hole in the middle of it! I had no idea how to fix it (I know that comes as a shocker), until Traci said we should just plop a sticker over it and call it good - brilliant! Ethan stopped being aghast.

So I went to the grocery store to weight it again . . . 5.4! Ugh. I had taken my huge drill with me so I went out in front of the store and started my skillful drilling again. And again, I punched a hole clear through the car. But this time the bit grabbed the "cover sticker" and turned it into a useless sticker wad (good name for a rock band). I'll spare you the rest, but it took me 8 weighings and 7 drill sessions in 10 degree weather to get the car to the right weight. When I was done the bottom of Ethan's car looked like monstrous alien termites (another good band name) had munched it. Thank goodness we had a bunch of stickers at home.

The most glorious moment of the derby for me was the weigh-in. It came in at 4.98 ounces. I could've gone home feeling great without racing the car once! But they did let the kids race and they all had a blast (click here to read Traci's post and see photos). Ethan got second place in a close match with Trent, whose car had also been worked on by Murphy Racing. They all had a ball, but my memory of it will probably be limited to the image of me walking (frozen and irritated) in and out of the grocery store, covered with wood shavings and holding a huge power drill in my hand . . . over and over and over.

Was it worth it? Like crazy it was!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Who is this Dude?!

I came across this photo going through some old e-mails. This is Allison during Christmas last year. This is as Bah-Humbug as anything I've ever seen. Love it!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Dave Barry's 25 Things

These are each from Dave Berry, "25 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years"

The badness of a movie is directly proportional to the number of helicopters in it.

You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe Daylight Saving Time.

People who feel the need to tell you that they have an excellent sense of humor are telling you that they have no sense of humor.

The most valuable function performed by the federal government is entertainment.

You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

A penny saved is worthless.

They can hold all the peace talks they want, but there will never be peace in the Middle East. Billions of years from now, when Earth is hurtling toward the Sun and there is nothing left alive on the planet except a few microorganisms, the icroorganisms living in the Middle East will be bitter enemies.

The most powerful force in the universe is: gossip.

The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.

There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is: age 11.

There is a very fine line between 'hobby' and 'mental illness.'

People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

Nobody is normal.

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: meetings.

The main accomplishment of almost all organized protests is to annoy people who are not in them.

If there really is a God who created the entire universe with all of its glories, and He decides to deliver a message to humanity, He will not use, as His messenger, a person on cable TV with a bad hairstyle.

You should not confuse your career with your life.

A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.

No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy.

Your friends love you anyway.

Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A little bit about the election

Tomorrow (probably today by the time you read this) the primaries will happen in New Hampshire. If you don't know what I'm talking about, well, feel embarrassed. I've got the Presidential Election on my mind tonight, and since all the commentators have already told me that Obama and McCain will win easily, I thought I'd blog.

I'm reading a book by Ronald Brownstein called "The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America." I haven't finished the whole thing, but the premise is obvious enough from the title. And it's hard to argue with. Over time, beginning in the 80s probably, people and circumstances have pushed our political system into two, very combative, corners. You're either red or blue, and there's not much in between. I have respect for our current president, but he's made those matters worse. I have a deep fear that the "paralysis" has made most Americans utterly apathetic about government's ability to make things better. I feel that way sometimes, and there's plenty of evidence to support it.

Somewhere though, I think that regardless of the party we say we belong to, there's a longing for our government to truly lead and do things to make our country and our world better. That doesn't mean that the end-game is simply beating the guy on the other side of the issue. I'm not even talking about issues. One thing history has taught us is that we have no idea what the next President will face. I remember electing GW 8 years ago - who would've thought we'd be where we are now? What's important is that we pick a leader with vision, intelligence, and a connection to the people who elected him/her. I don't care that much about their stance on certain divisive issues (abortion, gun control, tax laws, gay marriage . . . etc.) Too much of the electorate is stupidly focused on those. I want someone who isn't a career politician. And also someone who shares most of my values, but it sure doesn't have to be ALL of them. I don't care about something they said years ago or that got misrepresented by a media trying tirelessly to create stories.

I am disappointed that so many of the people who vote in my country are focused on the wrong things, or at least that's what the media and polls are telling me. For instance, I learned last week that people in Iowa and all around the country won't vote for someone who goes to the same Christian church that I do. I still don't know how to reconcile the feelings of bewilderment, anger, and even a bit of fear from knowing that. Mitt Romney would be the nominee if he went to a different Christian church. But if he's not the next President so be it. Whomever it is will be elected because people want CHANGE - that's the word that keeps dropping out of their mouths every few seconds. Anybody who says they don't want change is lying. That's what elections are kind of about. But I think more than being frustrated with stuff the government is doing, we're beside ourselves about the things government isn't doing. Here's some stuff I dream the next President and Congress would tackle:

- 47 million uninsured Americans with health care costs rising much faster than income
- One in four kids live in poverty in the wealthiest country the world's ever seen
- Our education system becomes more backwards and antiquated every day
- Why can't we just agree to do whatever it takes to be energy independent within 10 years? (the only people against this have PURELY SELFISH motives)
- Quit spending so much of my money on stuff we don't need!! I don't mind paying taxes, and I'm not asking for a break, but please think harder about what you're doing with my money.
- Also, don't spend money you don't have. If you need more, ask us for it and tell us why!

Oh, I could go on and on. I'm blabbering at this point. All I'm saying is that I hope so much that whomever we all pick as President won't be the President of only half of us. That's part of the reason I'm hoping that more folks pay attention to what's going on in the primaries. Unfortunately, the folks at the far ends of the political spectrum, who can't agree on anything, are the ones pushing the agendas and making the noise. I'm looking for a guy/gal who will see through that and pull people together. I think Mitt's that person. Whomever it is will have to deal with . . . well, we don't know. But I hope that whatever he has to deal with, he brings as many of us as he can with him, because I still believe that we can work together to get past our selfishness and do things for the greater good rather than to score political points. I'm just waiting for someone to ask . . .

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I've created a monster (but she's kinda hot)

My first blog post ever was on Dec 17, 2004. Since then I've been explaining to Traci (you may know her as the Mrs. HTF) how the whole blog thing works. I used to beg her to go read my clever posts, but since I've never written one of those I told her to settle for my mediocre posts. Sometimes she'd actually read 'em (although she never laughed, but that's kinda how my jokes work on her . . . they don't). I told her that she should do a blog. She'd comment on how it was a waste of time and how nobody would read it. I assured her that those words only described my blog, and that she'd have more success.

Well, as many of you know, a few weeks ago, at my urging, she took the plunge, and it was a full-on, nuclear, cannon-ball off the high-dive type of plunge. Now she is totally hooked on the blog thing. She's a little bit fanatical about her daily blog. She talks more about her "readers" more than her kids. (that part's 1000% sarcastic) We now use the phrase, "I'm gonna write a blog about you!" as the ultimate argument stopper. My four often-blogged-about children and I live in constant fear that we will do or say something blog worthy.

Just playin'. I'm actually pretty proud of Traci, and duly impressed. She's having fun and it looks like she has some folks that are consistently reading along. We were gonna have a contest on "readership" but she's already left me in the dust so I've pretended like I forgot the idea. You should also know the real reason this particular post was written - my wife has actually made fun of me for not writing on the blog in several days. So the whole Frankenstein thing is really resonating with yours truly right now.
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