Showing posts from January, 2012

In this dust that was a city

I like to think that Generation X -- my generation -- was the last to grow up fearing the nations of the world would blow each other up in a nuclear inferno. With the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s/early '90s, that scary prospect became greatly diminished. For the generations of kids who have followed, the world can still be a scary place, but I hope less on a global, finger-on-the-trigger, Armageddon-esque scale.

By the early 1980s, the nuclear hysteria had shifted. With Ronald Reagan as president, the specter of nuclear war seemed to become inevitable again, possibly how it was in the 1960s. But while the '60s at least thought there was a way to survive a war, '80s pop culture simply accepted an attitude of "when it happens, we're all screwed." The movie "War Games" was a classic example of this: Computers would start World War III and nothing could prevent that. Take the video game Missile Command -- no matter how many missiles you sto…

Cards and dice

When I was 9 years old, my dad introduced me to Strat-O-Matic baseball, a cards-and-dice baseball game. I've been hooked ever since.

Tonight, I introduced Michael to Strat-O-Matic. He's 8.

Admittedly, I would have been hooked on Strat if I started playing at age 6. I was adequately understanding baseball and reading well enough that I would have picked up the rules of the game right away. (I was playing All-Star Baseball instead, which in retrospect, was a natural segue to Strat-O-Matic.) Considering that, I figured Michael might enjoy Strat now. I'm also hoping he learns baseball a little more than he knows now, as well as giving him more opportunities to read (especially names, which he won't find in his literacy class in school). But who am I kidding -- I'm hoping he loves the game as much as I do.

We used the 2009 cards (the last new set I own -- I'm pondering getting last year just to stay current), with Michael picking the Blue Jays and me playing the Cubs. …


I'm in the midst of my third cold in the past three months, and I'm not too thrilled about it.

None of the colds has been too bad -- none has put me completely out of commission. In recent years, I have developed a plan on how to attack a cold so it doesn't affect me as much (Chlor-Trimeton, Advil, Cold-Eze, Afrin, and so on). But the colds have still been annoying. And tiring -- the Chlor-Trimetons, effective in dealing with the gross stuff being created in my nose, causes drowsiness.

This cold has been entirely in my nose, and though I've been tired, I haven't felt terrible the last two days. I haven't been that productive (and I'm working tonight, so that will change whether or like it or not), but I was OK for Mass today, with the only side effect being I avoided shaking hands during the Sign of Peace. I'm hoping that when I wake up in the morning, the worst of this mild cold will be behind me. I already was too tired last week without the cold; I don…

Racking my brains

A couple months ago, Lori bought some small metal towel racks to hang in the bathroom. I installed them somewhat easily, though I was lucky that one simply fit into the old bracket. With the boys back in swimming, she wanted a couple more of the small towel pegs in our bathroom to hang wet suits and towels from. I found the same racks at Home Depot, bought four of them, and planned to add them to the wall last Saturday. Easy, right?

Wrong. What followed were of the most frustrating, wasted hours of my life. And at the end of it, just one peg was added to the wall.

The racks are simple to install. Bore the plastic brackets (already equipped with a spiky tip for easy boring) into the dry wall, insert the screws through the metal mounting bracket that hold the towel rack, screw in the screws to secure the bracket, add the rack, tighten that up with the included Allen wrench and your done. I did this a couple months ago, so my biggest concern was just keeping them even on the wall.

After mea…

Darkness on the edge of town

I took Popcorn for a walk a few nights ago underneath a really dark sky. The darkness was the kind you don't see in the city often, especially in Salt Lake City, and especially in the winter.

I was walking north on 1700 East, passed 1700 South (sorry to burden you with street names, or in this case, numbers) and approached the edge of Wasatch Hollow Park. The park follows a creek with some hiking trails along it. No, I didn't go into the woods, but at the angle I was walking, it was dark enough. If I had looked to the west, I would have seen the lights of the Salt Lake Valley (we're a few hundred feet higher than most of the valley, so from the benches, you get a cool view of the city lights). Had I looked east, I would have seen the Wasatch Mountains about two miles away. Turning around south, I would have seen the lit intersection I just passed, including a Presbyterian church and a Chevron. But to the north, over the park and a few houses, on a street without lights, it …

Say hey

Last week, I got a call from a friend who remembered Lori and I, especially Lori, like Michael Franti. The Outdoor Retailers Show was in Salt Lake City last week, and a boot company was throwing a private concert that our friend was doing the sound for. Michael Franti was performing at this concert, and our friend called to see if we wanted to get put on the list to get in. I called Lori, whose amazed response to this news was "No f---ing way!" We asked a neighbor to watch the boys, and before we knew it, we were seeing Michael Franti in concert.

We had seen Michael Franti last summer at Red Butte Garden -- an outdoor amphitheater in SLC. We were about 25 yards from the stage on the lawn (it's all lawn seating at Red Butte) and danced all night to the awesome show being performed. Our concert last week topped that. The venue is small -- if you were at the back of the room, you'd only be about 40 feet from the stage. We got there early enough that we were practically o…

Where did the time go?

Upon opening my blog tonight, I discovered something that surprised me a little: I haven't posted since Jan. 13. It's been a busy 10 days, but seriously, I had no idea I haven't blogged in that long. Every night last week, I was thinking about writing something, then decided to wait until the next morning or afternoon. Then something came up and I pushed it back another day, then another day, and here we are: Jan. 23, 10 days since my last post.


So tonight, I'm going to try catching up with a few posts I can stagger and intermittently post when I'm not otherwise able to write. This post will focus on the boys' basketball seasons, which has begun and is two games in. I'm coaching both teams.

Ben's kindergarten team has been fun to coach. I brought somewhat low expectations to the games because, after all, the kids are just kindergartners. Some of them can't shoot the ball high enough to get over the lowered rim; others such as Ben can't dribbl…

The search is over

Today, Ben and I went to the DI -- Deseret Industries, the Utah/Mormon equivalent of Goodwill. We were donating some clothes at the store, which is brand new inside a remodeled Circuit City. After dropping off the clothes at the donation drive-thru (I kid you not), we parked and went in. I love going to resale stores and yard sales and looking for old board games/video games. I've picked up Bonkers, Gambler and Triple Yahtzee in the last year, and I was hoping for similar success at the DI.

Though we bought two games (a infernally difficult puzzle game with blocks that Ben likes, and Spy Alley, which is recent) for a dollar each, no classic games jumped out at me. The new store is infinitely nicer than the old one (which I rarely went to): brighter, more spaced out, cleaner. In the back was a rack with used bowling balls, and I so wanted to test one by rolling it down the aisle of the new store. Fortunately, I resisted.

As we walked through the new DI, I couldn't help but think …

This is January

Another January ...

It's dark outside. Dark and cold.

We walk back to our Century after Dad's basketball game. The parking lot doesn't have too much snow on it, but the snow it does have is grayish black. Dirty snow. There's enough snow still on the ground in places, and it's still cold enough, that I wear my boots. I wear my boots everywhere this winter. I'll change into my gym shoes -- Peanuts gym shoes without any shoelaces, because I can't tie my own shoes yet -- at school for gym class, but that's only once a week.

Dad won his basketball game because he always wins his basketball games. Sometimes, he will meet his teammates for a beer after the game and take me with. He will usually get me a soda and let sit in on his conversations with his friends or give me quarters to play pinball. Sometimes, we go to McDonald's after his games. Tonight, we are just going home.

The green Century is cold when we get in. I'm sitting in the back seat because I …

Bad dog

Our lab/pointer puppy, Popcorn, is just past 7 months old now. As far as puppies go, she's been pretty good. She hasn't had an accident in the house in three months, she hasn't eaten the cat yet, and she's not chewing on everything in sight like some puppies do. She a friendly pup that still jumps up on people to say hi. We're trying to train that out of her, but at least she loves meeting new people so much that she wants to say hi. We are lucky and feel blessed to have found and adopted her last summer. But ...

Popcorn is quite the chewer when she gets going. She's gone through a computer cord, some headphones, the protective case on my smartphone (that was months ago, though, and I'm happy to say, the case sacrificed itself and protected the phone), a couple puppy blankets, numerous puppy toys and one puppy bed for her crate. After she tore apart the first bed, we splurged and bought her a supposedly indestructible Kong bed. She loved it, until yesterday,…

Pool and court

The boys' basketball seasons resume this week. They had practices last month, and the games start Tuesday for Ben and Wednesday for Michael. I am coaching both teams, though I don't think it will be as crazy as coaching two soccer teams like I did in 2010-11. At least with basketball, I kind of know what I'm doing, and because they play on different nights and the league doesn't provide any additional practices, it's only two evenings a week for an hour. Piece of cake, right?

Well, perhaps because we didn't feel we weren't schedule-challenged enough, we signed the boys up for swimming, which also starts this week. Ben is doing lessons, which started today. We are hoping he progresses enough in the next three months that if he wanted to join swim team with his brother for the summer, he will be skilled enough to do so. Michael is signed up for swim workout -- offseason swim practices (his swim team only competes during the summer) twice a week. Conveniently, …

The 70 blues

I finished kindergarten in 1976. I started up again in 2009.

When Michael started kindergarten in a co-op school -- where parents help out in class once a week -- it did feel a little like I was back in kindergarten too. This was almost better because I could actually enjoy it as was happening, as opposed to my real kindergarten year, when I didn't understand how great I had it. No, I didn't actually play during Michael's kindergarten year, but I got to see him grow and learn and have fun. Kindergarten is wonderful -- there's learning, and there's play time. This will be the only year in their school career where they will have both. Preschool was mostly play and social skills. First grade was a little play and mostly educational skills. Kindergarten is the perfect balance of both.

Michael had a blast in kindergarten, then moved on to first grade. Ben started kindergarten last fall, with the same great teacher Michael had. It was like walking into a time capsule. All…

A long long time ago

After writing last week about Walter Payton's incredible 1977 season, I started reminiscing more about that winter. I picture it very dark and cold -- perhaps the first time in my seven years I had noticed what winter in Chicago was all about (basically, cold, dark and snowy). I guess we were driving more places in the evening (which, in Chicago December, starts about 4:30 p.m.), because I remember the music from this winter rather vividly (and I wasn't listening to too much radio outside of the car). "Saturday Night Fever" was huge this winter as disco was exploding. And in the winter of 1977-78, I saw "Star Wars" for the first time.

"Star Wars" was released in May 1977, but I didn't see it until several months later. We moved houses in 1977; my mother, who wouldn't get her license until the next year still wasn't driving yet; I had two little sisters that wouldn't have made it through a sci-fi movie; and my dad worked a lot of nig…

Hello 2012

For the first of my goal of 200 posts for 2012, I'm merely going to summarize the first days of the year (and the last day of the last).

We had an enjoyable New Year's Eve as a family. We saw "The Adventures of Tintin," came home and made pizza for dinner, Michael and I watched "Fellowship of the Ring," and we set our sights on midnight. The boys wanted to stay up, and amazingly, they made it, helped by a long session of Lego Harry Potter (Years 1-4) on the Wii. Midnight came, we made some noise, and then we got them to bed.

Unfortunately, they woke up early the next morning, though I got to sleep in. We weren't too active on Sunday/New Year's Day. The highlights: watching NFL games, doing laundry and taking the dog to the park. I worked last night, the last NFL Sunday of the regular season. Out of six fantasy football leagues, I'm happy to say I finished in the top four in five of them and won two.

Today, the last day before the boys start school,…