Monday, September 29, 2008

I went to Orientation and ended up an immigration case

Today I attended New Employee Orientation, something I hadn't done is eight years, and have no intention of doing again in the near future (excluding day 2 tomorrow). I had pictured an intimate group of 20 or so folks where we'd all get to know each other and be friends for life. To my surprise, there were around 150 people, many of whom seemed intent on not speaking or even making eye contact with others. This made things pretty darn awkward since we were standing in lines together for most of the morning. The low-light of the day happened after I stood in one of these lines. You see companies have to prove to the government that the people they're hiring are "legal." They do this by having you write your name on a piece of paper a few times and showing "documentation." When my turn came up I showed that I had in fact written my name and then I presented my glorious Kansas drivers license. This did little to satisfy my examiner, who quickly asked, "what other form of ID do you have?" I had no good answer. I could've presented important documentation in my wallet such as:

- A Southwest Frequent Flyer card
- An Olathe Public Library Card
- A QuikTrip Gas Card
- A YMCA card

Shockingly, none of these pleased the examiner who asked me if I could "run home" to pick up a government issued ID. (running home would be like a 6,000 mile round trip "jog") I told her that wasn't possible and she let me know in no uncertain terms that I had 48 hours to come up with even more impressive documentation or I would be deported to Columbia, by which I mean that I would no longer be a "new employee," I'd become a "former employee." Whoa - nice way to start the day.
The Mrs. HTF overnighted the documents and hopefully I can clear this up tomorrow. It's all my fault, I should've actually read the info they sent before the meeting. Anyway, lesson learned. If you ever make the same mistake, take solace, we'll be able to hang out in Bogota together!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Reinforcements Arrive Just In Time

Yesterday was the big day . . . I got on a plane and am now living in Seattle. Getting ready for the trip was less-than-pleasant, but could've been a lot worse. In the hours before we left for the airport our house started to feel like a tropical storm picking up steam. Chaos was building and the clock was ticking. You see I was fighting emotions and packing everything I thought I might possibly need to live alone for several months, while Traci was primping the house in case we had some possible home buyers stop by. Meanwhile the kids seemed to have organized against us, which is not atypical. Just when the storm was becoming a category 5 hurricane, the reinforcements arrived in the form of my parents, who live 0.9 miles from us. My mom jumped in and tackled a stack of dishes while my dad packed boxes for me, all the while they chastized the roving children, thus thwarting their plan. This however didn't perfectly calm things down - things were still kinda crazy, when my dad (who is often the source of playing/craziness at our house) suggested that I get a priesthood blessing. The timing and impact of it could not have been better. Everyone got together, calmed down dramatically, and I finally chilled out. The emotions of leaving the family behind are still working me over, but had it not been for the timely help of my parents the morning would've been much tougher.

Thanks for lots of interventions like that over the years, Mom & Dad. I love you and I'm so thankful that we were able to live near you guys for so long!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

K-Mart Flip Flops and/or Spiked Heels - HTF does fashion, sorta

Here's a probing question sent in by observant reader, CM, who again is asking me to opine on the single subject that I perhaps know the least about - fashion. Oh I've blogged before and included some "facts" on the topic, but this is an area probably best left to others. Still, I'm absolutely not above "pandering to the fans" (a fine name for a rock band). So here goes:

Dear HTF:
What is the definition of “business casual”? I work for a fairly large company, in a campus environment. As I walk around the campus, on my way to lunch, etc. I am constantly confused and bewildered by just what “business casual” means. Unless it’s changed, that’s supposed to be our dress code, but apparently I am woefully uninformed as to what this really means. Apparently, business casual includes:

Flip-flops; not the kind with some sort of heel – no, the plastic kind you buy at K-mart for .99
Mini-skirts paired with those platform shoes with the ties that wind around and up the leg: I’m sure this is “business wear”, just not this business
A big belt buckle and cowboy hat (I am not kidding)
Tunic-length tops with leggings and spike heels
A dress in shiny material with fishnet hose; again, this might qualify as “work wear”, just not sure where she was workin

And here’s the really scary part – we go casual on Fridays…..


Well, CM, it seems you have a burr in your leggings on this one. However, I don't really know what a legging is (for no reason I'm picturing a small ferret-like creature) Still, I think I can only help you. You see the root of the problem is simple misinterpretation. When you think business casual - you're thinking a medium step down from silk ties and pant-suits. But the odd ducks you're describing have a recently discovered (by which I mean in the last 10 seconds) malady called Fashion-fo-pa-lexia. They read it as "the business of being casual." When just a couple words are added the meaning changes to being as casual as you can possibly be. The worst forms of this disease feature individuals at board meetings picking at their toes while wearing one-piece pajamas and/or, well, nothing but a smirk. Now that's casual! So be grateful that the virus on your beloved "campus" hasn't grown any stronger.

However, the cowboy hat guy - he should be forced to either sing into the PA system or ride around on a copier wielding a non-lethal cap gun. Also, based on your e-mail - I'd recommend working from home on Fridays - that company of yours must get a little out of hand if the descriptions you gave were non-Friday-outfits.

Thanks for the question, CM - may your working world be a little more business and a little less casual.

Please send in your questions/comments to You're guaranteed to get a response on the blog which you either may or may not like. And we do give out prizes for participation!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Name Games on Planet Palin

The response to me speaking for all Alaskans about Sarah Palin was strong. It included being busted by a "good friend" from Utah and a real-life-Alaskan, whom I've never met, for using the term "snowmobile" instead of "Snow Machine." I guess tomorrow I'll be driving my "AutoMachine" to work.

Here's a comment and a very helpful tool sent in to You'll definitely need to make use of this!

After reading your blog this morning I realized one thing about Sarah Palin...I actually like her and she's got me excited about this election again (since, you know, my boy Mitt is out of the race now...cringe), but what is with her kids names?? Not like I think that the names that she gives her kids have any effect on what kind of leader she'll be (cause lets face it old John Mac won't really be around the whole time right?!...or will he?!) Anyhow, I started thinking, What if I were Sarah's Alaskan love child? What would she have named me?

And then I found this SARAH PALIN name generator:

I would've been named:
Fork Decoy Palin

Just sayin'.....thought you might get a kick out of it.

AB :)

So on Planet Palin here is my family:

Me: Flag Cobra Palin
Traci: Goalie Sanka Palin
Ethan: Rock Crane Palin
Braeden: Gripper Carom Palin
Sydney: Rot Pipeline Palin
Allison: Grill Igloo Palin

I'm certainly not one to make fun of how people name their kids, so I'm glad that website did it for me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Today's Photo Quiz . . .

One of these is the pretty girl I was lucky enough to marry . . . Can you point her out?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A New MMB and a Great Cause

Some of you are very familiar with the infamous "Mormon Mommy Bloggers (MMBs)." Well I stumbled across a new one that really made me laugh. And she's putting together a Blog Book for a great cause. So I wanted to give her and her cause some press here on HTF. Check out the site and buy the book when it's out!!

HTF Attempts to Speak For All Alaskans, Whether You Live in the Cold Part or the Really Cold Part

I've found myself having the same conversations over and over again lately, which is totally fine. People want to know why we're moving to Seattle and as the conversation goes on it comes up that my wife is from Alaska. Then comes the next obvious question, which was also sent into by an alert reader, who I will call "DW":

What do Alaskans think of Sarah Palin being McCain's VP?

I, of course, should probably steer clear of speaking for all Alaskans, particularly since I can't even speak intelligently for the one I'm married to (and also since the majority of Alaska's population are caribou who can't speak at all). However, that's not gonna stop the HTF from taking some wild guesses based on solid facts that I may or may not have made up. So I did actually do a little research and stumbled across this blog post by a prolific blogger in Alaska who the Mrs. HTF actually knows. If you want a better answer to the question, that post is probably a decent place to start. It's well written and sincere.

My take is that Alaskans are probably awfully wary of all the attention and are probably getting tired of the jokes (several of which I'll be sure to make on my blog, including the one about needing to have a passport to get in). However, the suddenly most-famous-governor-on-the-planet enjoys the highest approval ratings in the country (something like 84%). So it would be interesting to see someone in the White House with approval ratings above the single digits. A friend of mine has a friend who lives in Wasilla, the suddenly-most-famous-town-you'd-never-heard-of where I've actually visited. The Wasillian (a word that I just made up) told him that Sarah is "the real deal" and that she's every bit the positive leader that the campaign is making her out to be. This guy actually knows her and her family, which I'm assuming means that they shoot moose from their snowmobiles together on weekends. So I guess I'm saying that I suppose Alaskans are pretty proud to have one of their own in that spotlight. However, I also get the sense that there are plenty of 'em who would just assume have their governor back. Can you name your current governor? What about the one before him/her? (pop quiz)

So I'm not sure that's a great answer, but the Mrs. HTF has become a fan, as have I. And I was thoroughly convinced when she was first announced that JohnnyMac had decided to throw the election. I'm now convinced (as I've said in previous posts) that it was a flat-out brilliant political move. Pragmatism makes you do some interesting things sometimes, perhaps that explains the whole idea of putting Halibut in your Moose Stew.

Thanks for the question, DW (and everyone else).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tropical Storm Traci and My Wrinked-Up Toes

I've blogged repeatedly about the athletic prowess of the Mrs. HTF. Well she had her latest jaw-dropping performance over the weekend. On Saturday morning Traci competed in her very first triathlon, well, . . . sorta. Let me explain. Like many of you we've been building arks here in KC for the last few days. The rain just seems to keep coming. On Saturday morning we ventured out to the park where the event was to take place hoping that the rain would hold off. Well, as far as a dry morning, . . . not so much. Traci arrived at like 5 AM for the 7:45 AM start. I followed closely behind after dropping off the troops at our saintly friend's home and arrived at 7:10. Thank goodness there was a red umbrella in the minivan because it poured the entire time we were there, unless you count the 30 seconds before we got in the car to go home later that morning.

To our chagrin (a word I need to use more often) the bicycle portion of the triathlon was canceled due to the rain. I suggested they bring in stationary bikes, but I guess that was too much effort. So we were left with a swim and a run. The whole scene was pretty funny, unless you were, you know, in it. Husbands, boyfriends, parents, and supportive toddlers were huddled under overwhelmed umbrellas pretending they were glad to be there cheering-on their ladies. When in fact we all wished that the triathlon, turned biathlon (without the guns), would become a NO-athlon. But those are some tough ladies. By tough, I mean that half of them could've tossed me 30 feet into the lake and the other half would've had no trouble beating my Honda in a 3 mile race. As the race went on I made very communicative eye contact with some other supportive husbands. Some of the messages sent with raised eye-brows and headnods were:

- Can you believe we're standing here in the pouring rain in 6 inches of mud watching people swim in a lake, on purpose, when we could be home watching College Game Day on ESPN?!


- I'm wetter than my wife, and she's swimming in a lake!

But we all made it. Traci was amazing, no shocker at all. Leading up to it I was not allowed to tell people that she was "training for a triathlon." So instead I pointed out that she was swimming, biking, and running multiple times a week on the odd chance that she'd need to do these three things back to back to back at some point in the future. She's strong at downplaying expectations. After the race she made us hang around waiting for the results to be posted. She also got in line to get a massage. This left me to stoically hold my red umbrella and pretend I was happy to not be on my couch, dry. It was at this point that I experienced a quite lonely moment - as a muscle guy with long flowing hair gave the Mrs. HTF a thorough massage and I wasn't about to make small talk with any of the other folks in the area, 104% of which were women being watched closely by husbands/boyfriends, who like me, were unsure of how to function normally surrounded by that much estrogen. By my count the massage lasted just under two weeks and they finally had the awards ceremony. Traci took FIFTH PLACE in her age bracket (out of 42 women) and EIGHTEENTH overall (out of 253 women). So I continue to be in awe of this mother of four. I just hope next time I get to root her on in a tropical storm I get to watch from the comfort of my dry ark.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Toilets, Toddlers, and Time to Party!

Like you I mark my little passage through life with major milestones (graduations, getting married, the birth of our kids, remembering to get the trash out on the curb BEFORE I hear the truck, . . . etc.) We are approaching one of our grandest milestones as a couple - the last of our children to learn when and how to use indoor plumbing! Potty training is not for the weak spirited. There have been points, usually while I was wiping something off the floor that had no business being there, when it seemed perfectly logical to me to revert to diapers until the kids were in junior high or so.

One of the oddest parts of the process, if you're an outsider, is the fake, and sometimes very real, joy that parents have to show when there has been a successful encounter with the toilet. Today my 2-year-old called me at work to let me know that she was in fact at that moment seated on the toilet taking care of business. (I sincerely encourage you to call your parents next time when you have similar news to share) As Allison described what was happening I gave her multiple positive verbal responses. I was sitting in my cubicle (a word that should be changed) and anyone walking by would have had to stop in their tracks as I loudly said phrases like:

"Did you do it in the potty?!"
"So your Dora underwear is dry?!"
"You're such a big girl!"
(you get the idea)

It was real, pure, unadulterated joy. So now we sit (or rather Allison sits) on the cusp of life's next great milestone. We won't have to buy diapers again until the Mrs. HTF and I are A LOT older. After 9 years of Huggie Happiness (a good name for a rock band) we will soon see our disposable (pun intended) income increase by thousands of dollars a year. So please cheer us on, and for any of you brave parents still fighting the good fight of teaching this bit of self-sufficiency - it is absolutely worth it, and it'll make their junior high experience just that much better.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Breaking News from HTF . . .

When the junior Senator from Illinois decided to announce his VP pick via text message that kinda opened up a whole new world for announcing stuff. I don't want to be left behind on using "newer" technology to make my own, even more important, announcements. So here goes:

The whole HTF family will be moving soon from KC to Seattle and I'll be working for Microsoft.

I'm not gonna go into much more depth, cuz this is a blog that anyone has access to (but only 3 or 4 people actually look at). We are totally excited, but also sad about the people we'll be leaving behind here in O-Town, not the least of which are Nana and Grandpa Frog. I've lived here within a several block radius since I was 4-years-old (excluding college and my missionary time in Venezuela), so it feels like an adventure to leave. But now we're off to Seattle where I'm told it's 80 degrees and sunny year round . . . at least that's what the recruiter said while winking. The Mrs. HTF has family in Anchorage, so we can grab our passports, hop on a plane, and go visit the in-laws in their igloos a bit easier. (Traci loves it when I make my funny funny jokes about Alaska)

So there it is, I too made a big announcement using "new" technology. I did try to leak it to CNN several hours ago like Obama did, but for some reason they weren't interested . . . it must be a HUGE news day!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Parade and the Potty Talk

We took the kiddos to the annual "Old Settler's Day" Parade. We celebrate that here in Olathe to honor our "settlers who were old." I'm not sure why the younger ones did't merit a parade. Here were a few observations/comments:

- I had fun helping my son try to figure out why some of the horses in the parade had a large burlap sack attached to their backsides
- I'm not sure who decided that it was a great idea to hand out tons (and I mean that term literally) of teeth-rotting candy to the kids watching the parade, but my wife and I insincerely thank the organizers. It was a Halloween-like haul for my crew.
- Pretty sure that some of the schools have more kids in the marching band than actually attend the school.
- Worst "float" was a tow truck. That's all it was. Didn't have music, lights, and it wasn't even towing anything. I kinda think it was just a guy who took a wrong turn.
- One of the local mega-churches had its entire congregation walking along handing out water bottles as marketing. I heard one of them call it "holy water." Seriously . . .?!
- There were a couple karate groups out there. One of them featured two girls "fighting" as they walked the parade route. I hope they were still friends after the thing was over.
- I think one of the requirements for being a local politician is to have a lot of kids. Because most of the politicians featured numerous young kids handing out flyers and/or frisbees to the crowd.
- The most memorable "float" was a giant toilet sponsored by a local plumbing company. It made loud flushing sounds and shot out tootsie rolls (yes, I said tootsie rolls) to the crowd. On the side of the truck were these profound words:

"Everyday is a holiday when you have a working toilet"

After reading that life somehow felt a little sweeter. Thank goodness for those old settlers!

Friday, September 05, 2008

That Big Austrian Guy

We're back to the mailbag today and get to hear from a big Arnold fan.

Dear HTF:
So since the RNC didn’t get started until Tuesday, and Arnold S. was supposed to speak on Monday, we just miss out? How can this be allowed to happen? I was so looking forward to hearing him say (insert thick Austrian accent here) “California” 5 or 6 times during his speech…what a bummer!


Yeah, I was bummed too about the Governator not getting to wow the crowd with his wit and wisdom. I'm told that between speakers they showed key scenes from Predator and Kindergarten Cop (two strikingly similar films) so that the crowd wouldn't feel like they missed out too much. Last night after the balloons had deflated and the confetti had sufficiently clogged up the air conditioning system those wild and crazy Republicans gathered around the big screen and watched all 28 Terminator movies. So yea, we missed out, but since your favorite politician is a bit of a movie star, he can always be with you, CM. Thanks for the question!

Got any important/irrelevant questions or comments? Send 'em in to

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Republicans Get Loco, Moose Hunting Among Friends, and There Will Be Change

So I just finished watching McCain's speech and the end of the RNC. It should probably be renamed RDB (Republicans Dancing Badly). Clearly there is an epidemic of rhythmically-impaired Republicans and we need an emergency Federal Program to address the problem. Right now there are lots and lots of balloons and winter has started early in Minnesota, cuz it looks like it snowing in there. Pretty sure that one of those white beach-ball balloons knocked over the Senator's 138 year-old mother. (who I'm not a fan of because of this)

I hope that a lot of you (by which I mean both of you who read my blog) got to see some of the show this week. I think the way we elect a president is a bizarre process, which I'll document for you at some point, but these conventions are a marvelous way to kick off the last couple months of more political ads than actual TV programing. Reflecting on it now though, they should've probably just ended it last night with Sarah Palin's speech. Are you serious?! That was amazing. If you haven't seen it, go check it out, regardless of your party, gender, race, age, religion, shoe size, dental care status, or haircut - it was riveting. She won me over, really did. A week ago when she was announced I was dumbfounded and thought JohnnyMac had seen BO's speech the night before and just decided to throw the election. It took some time, but Gov Palin's speech made me a convert and she is now a full-fledged rock star. Brilliant move politically . . . as long at it, you know, works. PLUS they'll probably get ALL of Alaska's electoral votes, which are shared with Montana.

From the convention we've learned that the GOP is:

- For Change (shocker)
- Against the liberal, mean, stinky, out-of-touch, make-up-wearing, wimpy, elite media
- For Hockey-Moms (a term I'd never heard and still don't know what it means, but I'm assuming it's something about mothers who fight with sticks and gloves while ice skating)
- Against people who give great speeches in front of monstrous foam pillars in massive stadiums
- Not capable of pulling off any recognizable dance moves
- Totally supportive of Change
- In favor of moving "Washington" to an entirely different location, such as Wassila, Alaska
- Planning to fight corruption by sending offenders to France

So now it is on! This hopefully means that Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper will continue their broadcast in matching suits for the next 60 days, straight. I'm thinking that it would be marvelous if the 4 candidates went together on a moose-hunting trip in Alaska. That would be some PRICELESS reality TV. You can rest assured that the moose would be a little more frightened of the Republican ticket. I've just learned that the caribou can't vote in the national election, however, they do play a big roll in local politics I'm told. In some Alaskan counties you're required to wear antlers in the city council meetings.

We'll all be watching and listening, and a few of us, the moose to be specific, may even be dancing.
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